Serena beats 15-year-old in Key Biscayne
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) – When the ball whizzed past Serena Williams for an ace late in Sunday’s match, the subdued crowd suddenly erupted with a roar.
Williams said she was tempted to join the applause. Everyone wanted to see her underage, underdog opponent do better.
Fifteen-year-old Californian CiCi Bellis lasted only 41 minutes against Williams, losing 6-1, 6-1 in the third round at the Miami Open.
While Williams moved a step closer to her eighth Key Biscayne title, Rafael Nadal again came up short. He was eliminated by fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
Nadal, who was seeded second, has never won the tournament in 11 appearances. It’s the only event he hasn’t won in so many tries.
The precocious Bellis made headlines by winning a match at last year’s U.S. Open, but she couldn’t stay with the world’s No. 1 player. Williams won 51 of the 65 points and lost only two points in seven service games.
Bellis managed to smile afterward despite the drubbing.
“I was pretty nervous,” she said. “I didn’t know how my game would hold up against her, because I have never played her before. Never really seen her in person, just on TV.
“I mean, she’s my idol; she’s from America; she’s No. 1 in the world; she’s the best of all time. It’s pretty scary playing her.”
Williams advanced to Monday’s round of 16 against 2006 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded No. 24. She eliminated No. 13 Angelique Kerber 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Nadal beat Verdasco the first 13 times they played but has now lost to him twice in a row. Nadal dealt with several health issues in 2014 and said that while he’s fully recovered, he hasn’t regained his confidence.