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CiCi Bellis pulls off big upset in Australian Open

CiCi Bellis of the U.S. reacts during her second round match against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic on Jan. 23 at the Australian Open.
(Dita Alangkara / Associated Press)

With several marquee players having the day off, and others playing in night sessions, it was up to somebody else to make a splash in the second-round day matches Thursday at the Australian Open.

Enter CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old Californian who is healthy enough to participate in a Grand Slam tournament after a two-year absence.

Bellis , who has had four arm surgeries and is ranked 600th in the world, eliminated No. 20 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 in a women’s match on an outside court at Melbourne Park.

Also highlighting the day matches were Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and Daniil Medvedev of Russia.

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The second-seeded Pliskova continued her strong recent form with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Laura Siegemund of Germany in Rod Laver Arena.

“I’m happy to get through — this was an ugly match for me,” she said.

Last year, Pliskova lost to eventual women’s champion Naomi Osaka of Japan in the semifinals after saving four match points to beat American Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.

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Things got a little shaky for Medvedev, the men’s fourth seed, who needed a medical timeout for a nose bleed before beating Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 in Margaret Court Arena.

The Russian called for the medical assistance while leading 5-0 in the second set and needed treatment to stop the bleeding.

Medvedev fended off four breakpoint chances to hold in the sixth game of the third set, and finished off strongly.

In the women’s draw, sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland defeated Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 7-5, 7-5, and No. 19 Donna Vekic of Croatia got past Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 6-2.

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Bencic, known as a strong tactical player and smart server, lost her composure a few times in Margaret Court Arena but recovered to oust a strong but grieving opponent whose father died this month.

“Obviously, I know I’m not the biggest power player or best serve or best forehand, but I feel like I have an all-around game and I know how to play every shot,” Bencic said. “I just try to kind of outplay my opponents.”

The night matches Thursday featured the men’s top seed Rafael Nadal of Spain against Federico Delbonis of Argentina and the women’s fourth seed Simona Halep of Romania against qualifier Harriet Dart of Britain.

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In a late Wednesday women’s match, Williams and American Madison Keys advanced to the third round with straight-set victories over Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek and the Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus, respectively.

Third-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland defeated Filip Krajinovic of Serbia in the men’s draw.


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