Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Halep, Osaka bow out at Indian Wells

Halep, Osaka bow out at Indian Wells

After winning the Australian Open, Osaka shocked the tennis world by parting ways with her coach Sascha Bajin.

It was a tough day for seeded players at the BNP Paribas Open, with Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, the world's top-ranked players, ushered out in the desert.

Osaka, who is the reigning USA and Australian Open champion, saw her first career title defence go down in flames at the hands of a razor-sharp Bencic, who won their fourth-round match 6-3 6-1.

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.

"I felt comfortable with trying to control the point from there", said Williams, who fired 20 winners and converted seven of her nine break point chances.

"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", Osaka said.

Recalling her loss to Bencic at last year's Hopman Cup, the Japanese, who is seeking her first title defence, said: "That's really unbelievable, the fact that she was able to come back from her injury and still play at a really top level". The victory over Osaka came in "very high" in her list of big wins. "But it's everything I could do today, and I just want to chill now and then to see how I have to play better against her".

Venus Williams beat Christina Mc Hale to reach the Indian Wells fourth round. AP
Venus Williams beat Christina Mc Hale to reach the Indian Wells fourth round. AP

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.

I think before I didn't realize that so much. Her defeat means Osaka will retain her number one ranking, even though she couldn't pull off her first title defense.

Vondrousova had defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and last year's Indian Wells finalist Daria Kasatkina prior to beating Halep. Former world number ones Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza made it into the quarter-finals.

Bencic stunned two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the final at Dubai last month to capture her first WTA title in four years.

Another teenager, unseeded Canadian Bianca Andreescu, upset 18th seed Wang Qiang of China 7-5 6-2 to book her place in the quarters.

She will play either Ukraine's Elina Svitolina or Australian Ashleigh Barty in the last eight. Williams will fight for a semi-final berth against eighth-seeded Angelique Kerber, who beat ninth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

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