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Tennis: Bank of West Classic carries on without Serena Williams - San Jose Mercury News

STANFORD -- With Serena Williams out of the Bank of the West Classic because of injury, tournament officials lost not only a player who brightens any marquee but also one in the midst of a historic year.

But the tournament must go on, and Monday it did.

So, what's left?

As usual on the opening day of play, the top four seeds were paraded into the media center at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium, all sharing thoughts about the start of hard-court season and the year to this point.

Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Carla Suarez Navarro and Karolina Pliskova, combined, trail Williams 21-0 in the category of grand slam singles championships won, but all are ranked among the world's top 11.

Wozniacki is the most accomplished of the quartet. She is still in search of winning a big one, but not many players can say they have spent 67 weeks ranked No. 1.

Now fifth, Wozniacki comes into the hard-court season seeking the right chord to claim a U.S. Open championship she nearly won a year ago.

Wozniacki lost to Williams in the 2014 U.S. Open final, an outcome that launched the second "Serena" slam of Williams' career -- winning all four major titles in succession.

While Williams has soared at the grand slam tournaments in the past year, Wozniacki, 25, has taken a step back. She has not advanced into the latter stages of a major since the straight-sets loss to Williams.

Wozniacki said she played through a back issue during the recent grass-court season -- she lost at Wimbledon in the fourth round -- but is refreshed after taking time off.

"It was real nice to get away from everything and have fun and be with my friends and just do normal stuff," she said.

Wozniacki is scheduled to make her Bank of the West debut Thursday night, calling the occasion very rare at this stage in her career.

"I feel like a rookie," she said. "Every time I go to a tournament I know exactly where everything is. I know my favorite restaurants. I know which hotel to check in to. I know my favorite courts, my practice courts, everything.

"All of a sudden I am here, and I am like, 'Where is the hotel? Where is the court? Where is the nearest restaurant?' I haven't met this crowd before, either. But I am sure they're going to be great."

A potential crowd favorite, Atherton 16-year-old CiCi Bellis, looked as if she were on the verge of a stirring rally Monday afternoon. But after getting back on serve late in the second set, the kid who stunned the tennis world at the U.S. Open last summer lost to Misaki Doi of Japan 6-3, 7-6 (3).

A victory would have moved Bellis, who received a wild-card spot in the field, into a prime-time match Wednesday night against Radwanska, the No. 2 seed.

"Obviously that would have been really cool," said Bellis, ranked No. 157. "But I knew my first round would be really hard. These types of tournaments, still for me, it's hard to win a couple of games, let alone matches. "

Bellis made big headlines last August when, at 15, she defeated the 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova at the U.S. Open.

Nicole Gibbs, a former Stanford All-American, reached the main draw through qualifying and then advanced Monday with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Caroline Garcia.

Madison Keys, the seventh seed, cruised past Aleksandra Krunic 6-3, 6-0 in the night session. The 20-year-old Keys had a breakthrough this year when she reached the Australian Open semifinals.
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04 Agos 2015. 11:58:36

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