Defending champ Osaka blitzed by Bencic

Aubrey Yates
March 15, 2019

Bencic, ranked 23rd in the world, defeated Osaka 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the prestigious WTA premier mandatory event, where Osaka won her first tour title past year.

That marked the start of a remarkable rise that included Osaka's first Grand Slam title at the US Open. She followed that with an Australian Open crown that sent her to number one.

"[Matches like this] give me again 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", Kerber said.

"I think it's always a bit tricky whenever you change someone in the team, but I feel like for a first tournament we did really well", she said of her partnership with Jenkins, a former U.S. collegiate star who served as a hitting partner to Venus Williams from 2015 until the end of last season.

"I think I'm playing well all week but this is something special because she's number two in the world", Vondrousova said.

The world No. 23 player will next battle against fifth seed player Karolina Pliskova for her place in the semi-finals.

Halep's loss ensured Osaka will retain her number one ranking after the tournament. She won everything in the past couple of months. "I don't think it's going to be hard". "It's not going to get any easier from here, so I just have to continue to raise my game".

"I'm very confident with my game right now". "I was just fighting for every point".

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Earlier in the day, Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova ran Halep ragged before dumping the Romanian out of the tournament 6-2 3-6 6-2.

Halep, who received treatment for blisters on her foot during the match, hit just six winners and piled up 36 unforced errors. "I didn't feel like I was moving well at all", Osaka said. "But it's everything I could do today".

Japan's Osaka was trying to defend a title for the first time in her career.

Naomi Osaka (JPN) waves to fans while leaving the court after being her fourth round match against Belinda Bencic (not pictured) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Angelique Kerber, meanwhile, survived to earn a quarter-final showdown with Venus Williams.

Shortly before 15-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic was beaten in straight sets by 39th-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in Stadium 1, world No. 7 Nishikori was ousted at Indian Wells in another men's singles match at Stadium 2.

Ninth seed Sabalenka accounted for 24th seed Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 7-5. It's the first time two teenagers have reached this far at the BNP Paribas Open in a decade.

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