Friday, January 24, 2020

Bellis falls to Mertens in third round of Aussie Open

In the fourth tournament of her comeback, San Francisco Bay Area product CiCi
Bellis lost to 16th-seeded Elise Mertens 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0 in the third round of the
Australian Open. 2017 photo by Mal Taam
   CiCi Bellis will have to be content with equaling her deepest singles run in a Grand Slam tournament.
   In only the fourth tournament of her comeback, the 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product fell to 16th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0 tonight in the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   "Mertens is one of the fittest players on the tour, and it's really showing in the third set," ESPN commentator Rennae Stubbs said during the match.
   The 5-foot-10 (1.79-meter) Mertens, an Australian Open semifinalist in 2018 and U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, pounded 12 aces to none for the 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) Bellis.
    Mertens evened her record against Bellis at 1-1. Bellis outclassed Mertens 6-3, 6-3 in the first round at Dubai in February 2018, one month before injuries forced Bellis off the tour for 19 months. She had four operations, three on her right wrist and one on her right elbow, during her layoff.
   Bellis, who used her protected ranking to play in the Australian Open, will soar from No. 600 to No. 298 when the next rankings are released on Feb. 3. She reached a career-high No. 35 at age 18 in 2017 and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
   On the men's side in the Australian Open, Tennys Sandgren beat fellow American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round.
   Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native, has never reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in 14 appearances (all consecutive).
   Sandgren, an Australian Open quarterfinalist in 2018, lost to Querrey 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) in the round of 16 at Wimbledon last July in their only previous meeting.
   In the second round of men's doubles, Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area and Querrey edged 14th-seeded Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski of Great Britain 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (12).
   Murray won the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open with Bruno Soares of Brazil and the 2007 SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., with Eric Butorac of Rochester, Minn. Skupski played for the Sacramento-based California Dream in 2015, the team's only year of existence.

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