17-year-old CiCi Bellis earned the biggest win of her career over Agnieszka Radwanska, ousting the No.4 seed in three sets to reach the quarterfinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
WTA Staff
February 20, 2017

DUBAI, UAE - 17-year-old Catherine Bellis earned the biggest win of her career over Agnieszka Radwanska, ousting the No.4 seed in three sets to reach the quarterfinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

"It's one of the best feelings in my life, for sure," Bellis enthused in her post-match press conference. "I'm really happy about the outcome tonight. I work so hard for it and I think my work is paying off.

"I'm definitely playing some of my best tennis right now."

The American teenager is the youngest player in the Dubai draw - and the youngest member of the WTA Top 100. Bellis made a name for herself last season, backing up a run to the Bank of the West Classic quarterfinals with a third-round appearance at the US Open and a title at the Hawaii Open WTA 125K event.

 

 

A slow start to the 2017 season saw her miss the Australian swing with a hip injury and fall in qualifying at the Qatar Total Open, but the 17-year-old is back with a vengeance after her first Top 10 victory over Radwanska.

Bellis imposed her big-hitting game early on, leaving Radwanska with few answers to the American's heavy pace. Her confidence only grew after shaking off an early Radwanska break opportunity, drawing the 2012 champion into making more unforced errors than her normally neat and tidy game would allow. Bellis grabbed the lone break a few games later for a 4-3 lead before taking the opening set.

But the teenager couldn't keep up the high level as Radwanska changed tactics in the second set, coming up more frequently and taking time away from Bellis. She was rewarded with an early break, and four unforced errors in a row from the American gave Radwanska a 4-1 lead before going on to level the match with a second break of serve.

"I think in the second set she started playing a little bit better," Bellis reflected. "I went off a little bit. I think I was going for a little bit too much.

"I just told myself stay calm and go back to my game and what I was doing in the first set."

 

 

Bellis did just that and, after trading breaks with Radwanska at the start of the set, she reeled off the last four games in a row with a flurry of winners to clinch the biggest victory of her career after just under two hours.

"I have had kind of a dream couple of months since I have turned pro, but obviously it's not always going to be always happy-go-lucky, but I have been really lucky so far," Bellis said.

"I'm really just enjoying it more just thinking about how much fun I'm having and what an experience it's been for me so far."

With the victory, Bellis is projected to rise into the WTA Top 60, and can move into the Top 50 if she advances to the semifinals. She'll take on the winner between Kateryna Bondarenko and Caroline Wozniacki for a spot in her career first WTA Premier-level semifinals.