CiCi Bellis returns the ball to Serena Williams during their match at the Miami Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla., Sunday, March 29, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
J Pat Carter
February 20, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) American teenager Cici Bellis advanced to the second round at the Dubai Tennis Championships by beating 17th-seeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 7-5 Monday in her first official match of the season.

Bellis, who was sidelined with injuries before attempting to qualify for the tournament in Qatar last week, only allowed Putintseva to hold serve once in the first set. But Bellis trailed 5-0 in the second set before winning the final seven games.

''I got myself in a bit of trouble in the second set, but I'm glad I got out of it,'' Bellis said. ''I just thought to myself, stick to my game plan, just keep steady, I can come back.''

Olympic champion Monica Puig also advanced, beating Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

''In the first round I think it's good to have a match that pushes you a little bit, so then you start getting into the rhythm,'' Puig said. ''She's a very tricky opponent. You really have to be on your toes in every point in the match.''

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