Bellis Wins Again in Miami; Stewart, Tiafoe into Pro Circuit Semifinals; ITF Grade 4 Claremont Finals Set; Swan Out of ISC Carson
Rain ended Friday's play early at the Miami Open, but it was again a disappointing day for Americans, with the notable exception of CiCi Bellis.
Bellis, who last year at this time was preparing to begin play at the International Spring Championships and Easter Bowl, both of which she won, advanced to the third round of the WTA Premier event, cruising past No. 29 seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-1. Bellis, a wild card who will be 16 next month, avenged her three-set loss to Diyas in the second round of last year's USO Open, and will likely face No. 1 Serena Williams next. Williams was to play Monica Niculescu tonight, but that match was rained out. For more from Bellis (thanks to freelancer Carole Bouchard, who did the post-match interview), see this AP article. Sloane Stephens, who beat No. 17 seed Madison Keys 6-4, 6-2, was the only other US player to win on Friday in singles play.
On the other side of the state, in Palm Harbor, qualifier Katerina Stewart reached the semifinals of the $25,000 tournament there, her first appearance that deep in a tournament at that level. The 17-year-old Stewart defeated Alex Glatch 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 and will play fellow Floridian Allie Kiick Saturday. Kiick came back to beat Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 2-6 6-4, 6-3. Stewart defeated Kiick 6-3, 6-3 back in January in the first round of the $25,000 tournament in Sunrise. Top seed Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine and No. 8 seed Maria Irigoyen of Argentina will meet in the other semifinal.
At the $15,000 Futures in Calabasas California, Francis Tiafoe, who, like Bellis, was playing Carson and the Easter Bowl last year at this time, continued his winning streak, beating No. 8 seed Mitchell Krueger 7-5, 6-4. The Bakersfield Futures champion, who has now won eight straight Futures matches this month, will meet No. 6 seed Jason Jung, who again defeated Taylor Fritz, this time by a 6-3, 6-3 score. No. 2 seed Dennis Novikov came back from a set and 1-4 down (according to Jonathan Kelley, @jokelley on twitter) to defeat Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and will play another UCLA Bruin in the semifinals. Mackenzie McDonald and Clay Thompson are scheduled to play after 8:30 p.m. Pacific time to decide the fourth semifinalist.
The finals are set at the ITF Grade 4 in Claremont, with 15-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert and 16-year-old Connor Hance, both unseeded, playing for the boys title. The girls championship match will feature 17-year-old Hanna Chang, the No. 4 seed, against 15-year-old Victoria Emma, the No. 10 seed.
Chase Colton and Johnathan Small, the No. 5 seeds, won the boys doubles title, beating top seeds Piers Foley of Great Britain and Alexander Lebedev 6-4, 7-5. The girls doubles champions are Annette Goulak and Kenadi Hance, who beat Carson Branstine and Taylor Johnson 5-7, 7-5, 10-5. Neither of the girls teams was seeded.
Qualifying begins on Saturday for the ITF Grade 1 in Carson, with the draws now posted on the tournament website. A preview of the event is also now available there. Great Britain's Katie Swan, the Australian Open girls finalist who last week won her first $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit title, has withdrawn.