Two years ago, Catherine “CiCi” Bellis was the darling of the WTA Tour. As a teenager, Bellis was named the WTA’s Newcomer of the Year in 2017, before a series of wrist and elbow injuries derailed what was the start of a promising career.
In fact, as recently as just a few months ago, she was told she may never be able to play tennis again.
But Bellis continued to work her way back from injuries, and began her comeback to the tour at the beginning of this season. And now at 20-years-old, Bellis finds herself competing in her first Grand Slam event in more than two years. Ranked outside the Top 600, Bellis won her second straight match in Melbourne, defeating 20th seed Karolina Muchova 6-4, 6-4.
Awaiting Bellis in the third round is 16th seeded Belgian Elise Mertens, who defeated Great Britain’s Heather Watson 6-3, 6-0 in her Thursday match.
Second-seed Karolina Pliskova needed just one hour and 26 minutes to dispatch Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-3 and secure her spot in the third round, where she will meet 30th seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who beat American Taylor Townsend 7-5, 7-6(1).
Former champion Angelique Kerber knocked off Australian wild card Priscilla Hon 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the third round. The 17th seed converted on seven of her 10 break point chances to advance into a matchup with Italian Camila Giorgi, who defeated Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets.
“The first rounds are always not so easy,” said Kerber. “It doesn’t matter if you win in two sets or three sets. You always have to deal with the nerves with the first rounds.”
Elina Svitolina was the last player to book her spot in the third round as she wrapped up her 6-2, 7-6(6) win over Lauren Davis around 12:45 a.m. local time.
“It was very tough,” said Svitolina. “It’s always tough to play against Lauren. She always gives you one extra ball. You have to move your feet well to adjust to her flat shots. I was moving well today and now we can all go to bed!”
Svitolina will take on two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza next.