STANFORD, CA, USA - Playing in her first Bank of the West Classic as a direct entry - let alone as a seed - American teenager CiCi Bellis rolled past Alizé Cornet, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round in Stanford.
Playing for the third time in the Stanford main draw, Bellis is seeded No.8, after earning a wildcard entry in each of the past two years. The World No.44 looked every bit the part on Tuesday night in the one hour, 17-minute victory, as she broke the Frenchwoman's serve four times and never lost her own.
"I'm so happy to be back here!" Bellis exclaimed on court. "I think I'm on the right path now...I think I played great, Alizé is such a great player. I'm a perfectionist and I wanted to play so well in front of you guys, so I'm glad it got a little better in the end.
"It's so special [to be home]...I've never been more happy to be here, and it's just the best."
The No.8 seed never trailed in the match, as Bellis quickly broke in her first opportunity in the opening game, and never looked back. Bellis did not face a break point in the entirety of the first set, and was taken to deuce just once - in a three-deuce fourth game that she claimed to move ahead 3-1.
Ending the set just as she began it, Bellis snagged an insurance break to pocket the opener, as she moved ahead by a set in under 40 minutes. Though she served at just 48 percent, the American played clean tennis in the opening set, dropping just one point behind her first delivery and striking nine winners to nine unforced errors.
Though Cornet matched her in the winner count, the Frenchwoman also tallied 15 unforced in nine games.
"Being my home tournament, I get so much more excited just even winning points or matches," Bellis said. "I don't feel pressure at all, just having so much support here is motivating me. I think I'm definitely playing free and playing well."
Cornet stayed in touch with Bellis to begin the second set, as she had her best opportunity to take her first lead of the match in the third game. In the longest game of the match, the Frenchwoman created three break point chances in a six-deuce affair.
Nonetheless, Bellis won the mini-battle to stay in front, and immediately capitalized on the momentum for a break in the next game to build a lead she never relinquished.
The American upped her first serve percentage in the second set, landing 71 percent of them; as she did in the first set, however, Bellis wrapped up the victory with a break in the final game - sealing the win as Cornet drove a backhand well long of the baseline.
With the victory, Bellis sets up a second round meeting with qualifier Veronica Cepede Royg, who rallied from a set down to defeat former Stanford Cardinal Kristie Ahn, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.