Saturday, March 10, 2018

Bellis loses to defending champ at Indian Wells

CiCi Bellis eyes a backhand during her 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 loss to No. 24 seed and
defending champion Elena Vesnina today in the second round of the BNP
Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Photo by Mal Taam
   No. 24 seed and defending champion Elena Vesnina of Russia beat CiCi Bellis, an 18-year-old product of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 today in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
   Vesnina, 31, received a first-round bye before facing Bellis for the first time.
   "I'm really happy that I won this (first) match," Vesnina told reporters. "It's never easy to play first match in any tournament, and in this tournament especially for me.
   "CiCi, she's having a great season. She's only 18 years old. When they announced that and they said her highest ranking is 35 in the world, I was like, Whoa, that's impressive.
   "She has a bright future. She's a really talented girl, good fighter. Yeah, I'm just happy that I won this match."
   After playing in 16,100-seat Stadium 1 in her first two career matches at Indian Wells, the 45th-ranked Bellis played Vesnina in Stadium 4. Oddly, No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov faced Fernando Verdasco in Stadium 1 instead. Verdasco, a 34-year-old left-hander who won the 2010 SAP Open in San Jose, prevailed 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3.
   The late match between No. 13 seed Sloane Stephens and wild card Victoria Azarenka was postponed by rain until Sunday not before 12:30 p.m.
   Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, has slumped badly since winning her first Grand Slam title in the U.S. Open last September. Azarenka reached No. 1 in the world in 2012 and won the BNP Paribas Open that year and in 2016.
   Azarenka is playing in her first tournament since Wimbledon last July because of a custody battle over her 1-year-old son, Leo.
   In a first-round battle of brothers, former Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Alexander and Mischa Zverev 6-3, 4-6 (10-1). The seventh-seeded Bryans seek their third Indian Wells title.

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