Friday, June 30, 2017

Bellis to make Wimbledon debut vs. Azarenka

CiCi Bellis, shown last year, wanted to go to Wimbledon
"from Day 1," her childhood coach told The New York
Times in March. Photo by Paul Bauman
   CiCi Bellis, an 18-year-old product of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, is scheduled to play in the women's main draw at Wimbledon for the first time on Monday or Tuesday against former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
   It will be Bellis' first match against Azarenka, who will be playing in her second tournament since giving birth to her first child in December, and first at Wimbledon since losing in the opening round of the juniors three years ago.
   "From Day 1, she wanted to go to Wimbledon, and I mean Day 1," Bellis' childhood coach, Monique Javer, told The New York Times in March.
   It didn't hurt that Javer's favorite tournament during her 16-year pro career (1985-2000) was Wimbledon. Although Javer was born in Burlingame, near Atherton, she represented Great Britain because her mother is British. Javer rose to No. 1 in the nation and peaked at No. 56 in the world in 1992.
   The draw for Wimbledon, Monday through July 16, was held today. No. 24 seed Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native like Bellis, will play Thomas Fabbiano of Italy. Dmitry Tursunov, a 34-year-old Russian who trains in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, will meet No. 28 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy.
   Bellis, the youngest woman in the top 50 at No. 40, reached the Mallorca semifinals last week in her first tournament on grass since the 2014 Wimbledon juniors.
   The 27-year-old Azarenka last week played in her first tournament since the 2016 French Open, losing in the second round at Mallorca to No. 7 seed Ana Konjuh of Croatia. Azarenka withdrew from Wimbledon last year with a knee injury and announced her pregnancy on July 15. She won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013 and reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2011 and 2012.
   The winner of the match between the 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) Bellis and the 6-foot (1.83-meter) Azarenka likely will face No. 15 seed Elena Vesnina, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, in the second round.
   Querrey, meanwhile, faces the pressure of trying to repeat his appearance in last year's Wimbledon quarterfinals, his best Grand Slam result. He stunned Novak Djokovic, ranked No. 1 and the two-time defending champion, in the third round.
   Querrey, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), and Fabbiano, only 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters) and 152 pounds (69 kilograms), will meet for the first time. Fabbiano, ranked 95th, has won three Challenger titles this year and advance to two other finals, including Nottingham on grass two weeks ago..
   Querrey could face No. 12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a two-time Wimbledon semifinalist, in the third round. Tsonga is 4-1 against Querrey, including a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 14-12 victory in the second round at Wimbledon in 2014.
   Tursunov is 1-0 against Fognini, but that match occurred eight years ago. Tursunov won 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round on grass at Eastbourne en route to the sixth of his seven career singles titles.
   But the injury-plagued Tursunov will be playing his first match since the Australian Open in January and only his second since Toronto last July. Ranked No. 701 after climbing a career-high No. 20 in 2006, he hasn't won a match at the tour level since Acapulco in February last year.
   Tursunov reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2005 and 2006 for his best Grand Slam singles results, but he's 0-4 at the All England Club since 2011.
   The 30-year-old Fognini's best results at Wimbledon are third-round appearances in 2010 and 2014.

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