Marie Bouzkova (CZE) vs.  Catherine (CiCi) Bellis (USA)
Bellis was once ranked as high as number thirty-five in 2017 and she carried the burden of American expectations on her shoulders for a while. Unfortunately, injury befell the young American and she was sidelined in March 2018. She played one tournament in November 2019 in the Oracle Challenger Series in Texas. She played her first main draw match earlier this season at the ASB Classic; however, it ended abruptly in the first round to Jessica Pegula.
Things looked grim for Bellis, who dropped the first set and was 1-4 down in the second set with all the momentum against her. Yet, the American was known for her feisty competitive nature and perhaps the knowledge that she had beaten Bouzkova in their only other meeting inspired her, but she never looked discouraged. She would need that belief to fight off match point and to dig in again when she surrendered her lead early in the third.
Hard Fought Victory For The American
There was nothing separating these two players except for Bellis’ advantage in the mental department. Their statistics were almost identical at the end of the match. The one telling factor not quantified by the scoreboard was the determination and fight of the young American. Was Bouzkova surprised that Bellis never gave up? She should not have been as every tennis player knows well that most opponents will fight harder when their back is against the wall.
Bellis won 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3
Perhaps she expected Bellis to tire, but there was no evidence of that despite the long layoff. The American is looking fit as ever and if she can get a few more victories under her belt before the Australian Open, which starts on Sunday, she will be a happy young lady. Despite her lowly ranking, she has a special exemption because she was injured and will enter the main draw with a protected ranking of forty-four.
I am definitely curious to see what she has and how she holds up and it would be very sweet indeed if she could win a few rounds at the Australian Open to boost her ranking.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio.com (Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe: Catherine Bellis)