Friday, August 4, 2017

Bellis, 18, crushes Kvitova in Stanford quarters

CiCi Bellis exults after demolishing two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova
6-2, 6-0 tonight in the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
Photo by Mal Taam
   It was one thing for CiCi Bellis to beat Petra Kvitova tonight in the quarterfinals of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   But 6-2, 6-0 in 62 minutes?
   We're talking about a two-time Wimbledon champion, not some obscure qualifier.
   Yes, Kvitova returned to the tour in May after suffering career-threatening cuts to her left (playing) hand in a knife attack at her home in the Czech Republic in December.
   But it's not as if the 27-year-old left-hander has been playing badly (a second-round loss to No. 95 Madison Brengle at Wimbledon notwithstanding).
   Kvitova won Birmingham on grass in the second tournament of her comeback and dispatched Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2, 6-2 in the second round at Stanford on Thursday.
   Tonight, the second-seeded Kvitova had only one ace, double-faulted six times and committed 26 unforced errors to Bellis' nine.
   "I think this is definitely one of the biggest wins of my career,” the 18-year-old Bellis, who grew up a five-minute drive from Stanford in Atherton, told reporters. “I’m just really happy with how I played, and really excited I was able to get through it.
   “I don’t think Kvitova played her best tennis, but on my side I feel like just played a real unbelieveable match.”
    Kvitova is ranked No. 14 after reaching a career-high No. 2 in 2011. At 6 feet (1.83 meters), she towers over the 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Bellis.
   Bellis, the youngest player in the top 50 at No. 44, beat a top-20 player for the fourth time. She stunned No. 13 Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the 2014 U.S. Open at age 15, knocked off No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round at Dubai in February and upended No. 18 Kiki Bertens in the second round of the French Open in May.
   Cibulkova and Radwanska have reached one Grand Slam final each, but this was Bellis' first victory over a major champion. That does not include her win over Jelena Ostapenko in the first round of last year's Bank of the West Classic. Ostapenko won the French Open two days after her 20th birthday in June.
   Bellis also advanced to the semifinals of a WTA Premier Level tournament for the first time. Seeded eighth, she will face No. 6 seed and 24th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) from Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area, for the first time on Saturday at 2 p.m. (ESPN2).
   Vandeweghe, the runner-up to Serena Williams as a lucky loser five years ago at Stanford, downed No. 4 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-2, 6-3.
   Hey, if CiCi can beat Kiki, she might beat CoCo, the oldest Stanford semifinalist at 25.
   In the other semifinal, top seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain will play third-seeded Madison Keys of Boca Raton, Fla., at 7 p.m. (ESPN2). Keys, 22, is 2-0 against Muguruza, 23.
   Muguruza, ranked fourth, outclassed No. 5 seed Ana Konjuh, a 19-year-old Croatian ranked 20th, 6-1, 6-3. Muguruza has lost only six games in her two Stanford matches. The top four seeds received first-round byes.
   Keys, a right-hander who had left wrist surgery last November and returned to the tour in March, eliminated seventh-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-3.
   Here are the Bank of the West singles and doubles draws and Saturday's schedule.
   Here are the qualifying draw in the men's $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger in Aptos, Calif., and Saturday's schedule. Aptos, situated on the Pacific Ocean, is a one-hour drive south of Stanford.

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