INDIAN WELLS (AFP) – World No. 1 and defending champion Naomi Osaka crashed out of Indian Wells on Tuesday (March 12), routed 6-3, 6-1 by Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic.
Japan’s Osaka was trying to defend a title for the first time in her career. Her triumph in this elite WTA premier mandatory tournament launched a stellar rise in 2018 that included a first Grand Slam title at the US Open.
She followed that up with an Australian Open crown in January that propelled the 21-year-old to No. 1 in the world.
Bencic, who turned 22 on Sunday, was a teenage star who won two titles in 2015 but saw her career stalled by a string of back and wrist injuries.
She’s back on the rise, ranked 23rd in the world after capturing the title in Dubai last month.
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.
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