INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - 18-year-old CiCi Bellis played almost flawless tennis to ease past Spanish qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo in just over an hour, 6-0, 6-3, and advance to the second round of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in her career.
Bellis’ strong serving was the key to the match; she lost just three points on her own serve in the first set and was broken only once across both sets.
“I was playing really well in the first set, and held on during the beginning of the second,” Bellis said in her on-court interview. “I just tried to stay solid and not think about [the break of serve] too much. I’m really glad I got through.”
Bellis was nearly untouchable during the 25-minute opening set. Her powerful serve kept Sorribes Tormo out of the rallies, and she only dropped three points in her service games throughout the set. She kept the Spaniard under pressure throughout, and as a result reeled off six games in a row to breeze into the opening set.
In the second, Bellis faced more resistance from her opponent. Sorribes Tormo finally held serve to start the second set, ending Bellis’ dominant run. But Bellis wasn’t shaken, even when she faced her first break points at 5-2 and was ultimately broken for the first time in the match. She came back confidently and aggressively to break straight back and take the match after an hour and seven minutes.
“I was pretty confident going into the match,” Bellis explained to wtatennis.com after the match. “I was playing really well in practice this week.”
She added, “It’s so much more fun to play matches like this where I’m expected to win, instead of [in the past] being expected to not do well playing players ranked ahead of me. It gives me more confidence in myself going into matches.”
Bellis outgunned Sorribes Tormo posting 27 winners against the Spaniard’s four. She also kept her unforced error count low, striking 17 against Sorribes Tormo’s 26. Sorribes Tormo’s inability to protect her serve ultimately made the difference; she held serve just twice throughout the whole match - both times in the second set - and allowed Bellis to create 11 break chances, converting six.
The American will take on defending champion Elena Vesnina in the next round.
“She obviously plays really well out here, she’s an unbelievable player,” Bellis said. “I watched her play a lot when I was younger. It’ll be really fun. I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited.”