Osaka finds positives despite Indian Wells upset

Heather Diaz
March 16, 2019

World number one Naomi Osaka crashed out of Indian Wells on Tuesday, routed by Belinda Bencic on a day that saw second-ranked Simona Halep sent packing, too.

Tuesday's match against Osaka was also the first-ever match for Bencic against a No.1 not named Williams, as she lost her first career match against the American when she occupied the top spot in Madrid in 2014. "Honestly, at a time like this with that scoreline, I would usually feel very depressed and sad".

"It gives me confidence that I can turn around matches, that I can play also three sets, also in the close moments that I'm there, that I can trust myself", said Kerber, adding that it was always hard to face an opponent for the first time.

After her 66-minute triumph over Osaka, Bencic will fight for a semi-final berth against either fifth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova or Estonian Anett Kontaveit.

"I was really happy with the performance", Bencic told Tennis Channel. "I mean, she's the number one player in the world".

Osaka was not the only top player who was shocked in California court as world No. 2 and 2015 title victor Simona Halep also fell to Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova by 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

Halep, who received medical treatment for blisters on her foot during the match, won less than half of her first-service points and hit just six winners to go with 36 unforced errors.

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Her defeat means Osaka will retain her number one ranking, even though she couldn't pull off her first title defense.

"I didn't lose in the first round".

She beat four top-10 players on the way to the title in Dubai.

"I never played her, so you're out there learning what they do well, what shots they select", Williams said, admitting that it wasn't until the second set that she felt 'OK, I understand'. Muguruza next faces 18-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who surprised China's 18th-seeded Wang Qiang 7-5, 6-2.

In other third-round action, three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber came from a set down to beat Russian qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. It took some time, but eventually the Swiss managed to get back to a great form also helped by her boyfriend Martin Hromkovic that is her fitness trainer.

Seven-time grand slam victor Venus Williams also found it tricky facing fellow American Christina McHale for the first time, but she pulled back early breaks in each set to win 6-2, 7-5.

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