18-year-old CiCi Bellis is quietly proving herself at Roland Garros

Wednesday May 31st, 2017

We shouldn’t gloss over Bellis’ takedown of Bertens—a semifinalist here last year—and we won’t. When Bellis turned pro and declined playing college tennis, likely at Stanford, many questioned the decision. (Self included.) Here she is, barely 18, ensconced in the top 50 already (with little defend the rest of the year) and not paying much of a price for her modest physique. She has an innocence to her, but a level-headedness, too. She has a support group traveling with her. Her decision turns pro looks prudent right now. All the more so if she beats Caroline Wozniacki and reaches the middle weekend.

A note about lead-up tournaments ahead of majors: Bertens had no trouble beating Bellis in Rome two weeks ago. Bertens won the Nuremberg title week. On Wednesday, re-matched against Bellis, she fell in straight sets. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga may have won his first claycourt tournament last weekend in Lyon. Despite (because of?) this success, this 2017 French Open campaign was a failure. Tsonga took his first defeat in the first round since 2005, falling to Argentina’s Renzo Olivo 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4. Daria Gavrilova reached the Strasbourg title on Saturday. She came here and promptly lost her first match. Some players need more rest than others. But those who really fancy themselves Grand Slam contenders might want to consult the data w/r/t playing the week before the four Big Shows.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.