Naomi Osaka Powers Past Collins To Set Bencic Clash - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka Powers Past Collins To Set Bencic Clash

Naomi Osaka maintained her chance of a second consecutive title in Indian Wells with a comprehensive straight-sets win over Danielle Collins.

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Naomi Osaka (@BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Naomi Osaka kept her title defence alive in Indian Wells with an impressive 6-4 6-2 victory over rising star Danielle Collins.

The Japanese superstar, 21, was ranked 44 in the world before last year’s event. This time, she is playing with an entirely new type of pressure as the World No.1.

But Osaka does not seem bothered that she is the favourite. She is simply playing the same aggressive game that got her to the top.

The Australian Open champion started well when she broke Collins in the third game. However, the American was not discouraged. She attacked Osaka’s serve and broke straight back.

During the next four games, both players tried to hit each other off the court. Their approach generated a string of powerful winners and wild unforced errors and eventually resulted in two holds apiece that moved the score along to 4-4.

In game nine, Collins’ serve deserted her. She made two double faults and then sent down a weak second serve that Osaka swatted away for a winner.

The World No.1 unleashed another superb backhand winner to bring up break point. Then she produced an equally impressive forehand winner to clinch the break.

Osaka builds on her advantage

Osaka took full advantage of the momentum she had now established. She held easily to finish the first set and then broke Collins to love in the third game of the second set to take complete control of the match.

The Japanese player then ended any lingering resistance from the American when she battled back from 40-15 behind to break for a 4-1 lead.

To her credit, Collins saved a match point in game seven and ensured that the World No.1 would have to serve for the win. She did exactly that – thanks to an ace, two huge forehands and a crisp backhand winner.

“I really love this tournament,” Osaka said in her press conference. “I think that some people say it’s kind of slow. But for me, I feel like it’s kind of perfect for the way that I like to play.”

The Japanese player’s next assignment is a mouth-watering clash with Dubai champion Belinda Bencic, who maintained her impressive form with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 win over Caroline Wozniacki’s conqueror Ekaterina Alexandrova.

“I think the things she’s done are really amazing, and (I’m impressed by) the fact that she was able to come back from her injury and still play at a really top level,” Osaka said. “I know we both really want to win this next match.”

She continued, “I think we are both looking forward to it. Because we are the same age, I know that people are going to hype this match up. It should be fun.”

Goerges crashes out; Pliskova and Sabalenka advance

Aryna Sabalenka (@BNPPARIBASOPEN on Twitter)

Elsewhere in Indian Wells, there was a shock exit for 15th seed Julia Goerges, who lost 7-5 1-6 6-4 to compatriot Mona Barthel.

The German is normally one of the strongest servers on the WTA tour. However, she struggled in the slow conditions on a cold day in the desert. She only won 53% of points on her serve, fired down just one ace and made six double faults.

These difficulties enabled her Barthel to break her three times in the first set and, crucially, three times in the decider to claim victory.

Other high-ranked players enjoyed much better days. Karolina Pliskova brushed aside Ysaline Bonaventure 6-3 6-2 in just 69 minutes. Aryna Sabalenka overpowered Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 7-5. And Venus Williams overcame fellow American Christina McHale 6-2 7-5.

The final match that took place in the women’s draw was cut short by illness, as 11th seed Anastasija Sevastova was forced to retire with a virus when she was trailing 5-0 to 21st seed Anett Kontaveit.

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Victoria Azarenka edges Dominika Cibulkova to reach the second round in Miami

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Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka battled past Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 3-6 6-4 after 2 hours and 31 minutes in their first match since 2015 at the Hard Rock Stadium to reach the second round at the Miami Open.

Victoria Azarenka, who won the Miami three times in 2009, 2011 and 2016 and reached the semifinal last year in the previous venue of Crandon Park at Key Biscayne, had achieved two of her previous seven wins at this tournament in the third round in 2011 and in the fourth round in 2012.

Azarenka got an immediate break in the first game of the opening set and went up a double break with a forehand return winner to cruise through to a 5-2 lead. Cibulkova started the second set with a hold of serve before breaking serve at 15 with a lob drive volley to open up a 2-0 lead. Azarenka broke straight back in the third game on the fifth game for 1-2 when Cibulkova made a double fault. Cibulkova got another break in the eighth game with a forehand down the line before serving out the second set to 30.

Cibulkova earned two break points in the third game of the decisive set, but Azarenka held her serve with her seventh ace. Azarenka held her serve with a backhand winner to draw level to 2-2 in the fourth game. Cibulkova broke serve for the first time in the decider with a backhand return to take a 3-2 lead, but Azarenka broke straight back in the sixth game, when Cibulkova missed a backhand. In the eighth game Cibulkova went up 40-15 but she made a double fault. Azarenka came back to break serve with a backhand return. As Azarenka was serving for the match at 30-0, Cibulkova hit a forehand winner and a dropshot to break back on her third break point chance. Cibulkova made two double faults, while she was serving at 4-5. Azarenka earned her first match point with a forehand return winner and converted it with a smash setting up a second round match against Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia.

“It was a little bit of a roller coaster. Dominika is such a dangerous opponent. She has been on the tour for a while and we have played from juniors together. It was an entertaining first match. I think that’s you want to start the tournament. It was such an honour to play here as the first match and I am so excited for the tournament. I thank the organizers for their great work. They have made a good effort to improve the facility”,said Azarenka.

 

 

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Angelique Kerber and Bianca Andreescu could meet again in Miami

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Last year’s Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber could meet 18-year-old Indian Canadian rising star Bianca Andreescu in the third round at the Miami Open at the Hard Rock Stadium in a possible re-match of last Sunday’s Indian Wells final. Andreescu beat Kerber 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the Californian desert.

Kerber and Andreescu have been drawn in the top quarter of the draw and one of these players could meet Naomi Osaka in a blockbuster quarter final.

Andreescu claimed her maiden title in the Californian desert beating her German rival in three sets. Kerber praised Andreescu for her aggressive tennis in the Indian Wells final.

“After the first set I did my best to come back and but Bianca played good, especially in the third set. When she had her chances, she just went for it, putting the balls into the court. She deserved to win in the end, playing the whole tournament well. I know that I had to play my best tennis, although I was not able to take my chances, something she did. Her level was high already in Auckland, starting the year with the final and carrying that form here”, said Kerber.

At Indian Wells Kerber beat Yulia Putintseva, Natalya Vikhlyantseva, Aryna Sabalenka, Venus Williams and Belinda Bencic to advance to the 29th final of her career. Despite the defeat Kerber has remained positive about her successful week at Indian Wells and is confident ahead of her next tournament in Miami.

“For me the positive thing is that I played in the final, something I did not expect two weeks ago. That’s why I am happy about this tournament and that gives me a lot of confidence. In a few days we have another tournament and we all start again from zero. I was trying not to look too much on her side but she played well. Miami is the new chapter for all of us. There are different conditions and rivals and we willin the new venue. I am looking forward to going there”, said Kerber.

 

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Sloane Stephens out to defend her title at the Miami Open

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Reigning US Open and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep, fresh Indian Wells winner Bianca Andreescu, 23-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams and 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber are in the spotlight at the Miami Open Main Draw.  

Naomi Osaka leads the top half of the draw, which also features three Grand Slam champions; Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki. Osaka won the first title of her career at Indian Wells in 2018 and beat Serena Williams in her opening match of last year’s edition of the Miami Open before losing to Elina Svitolina.

In this year’s edition of the Miami Open Osaka will open her campaign against a qualifier and could take on Hsieh-Su-Wei in the third round in a possible re-match of this year’s Australian Open third round match. In Melbourne the Japanese player came back from a set down to beat Hsieh-Su-Wei 5-7 6-4 6-1. Last week Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic in straight sets in Indian Wells.

Osaka could face either Caroline Wozniacki or Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round and is on collision course for a possible quarter final clash against either Angelique Kerber or Aryna Sabalenka.

Defending champion Sloane Stephens lead the bottom half of the draw. The 2017 US Open champion has had a season of ups and downs with a record of 5 wins and 5 losses and lost in her opening round of Indian Wells against Stefanie Voegele, but the US player should not be underestimated. Last year she entered the Miami tournament with a negative 3-4 win-loss record and won her maiden Miami title. She continued her successful 2018 season with three finals at Roland Garros, Montreal and at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Stephens will start her defence against either Budapest champion Alyson Van Uytvanck or Ons Jabeur and could meet Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the third round and is on collision course for a possible quarter final against either Karolina Pliskova or Jelena Ostapenko (in a possible re-match of last year’s final). Pliskova could meet 2019 Dubai champion and Indian Wells semifinalist Belinda Bencic in the third round in a potential re-match of this year’s Indian Wells match.

Simona Halep leads the bottom half of the draw. The Romanian player will open her Miami campaign against Johanna Larsson an dcould meet either Daria Kasatkina in the third round or Lesla Tsurenko before a potential quarter final against either Serena Williams or last year’s WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina.

This year’s Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova has been drawn in the top half of the draw and will play against either Maria Sakkari or last year’s Moscow champion Olga Danilovic in her opening match before a possible third-round clash against Donna Vekic.

Fresh Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu will make her Miami Open debut against Romania’s Irina Camelia Begu. The winner of this match could clash against 20-year-old US player Sofia Kenin, who beat Andreescu in the recent Acapulco semifinal. Andreescu could face Kerber in the third round in a potential re-match of last Sunday’s Indian Wells final.

In one of the most interesting first round matches former Miami champion Victoria Azarenka will face 2016 WTA Finals champion Dominica Cibulkova, who reached the semifinal in Miami in 2014.

Mari Osaka, the elder sister of Naomi Osaka, was awarded a wild card for the 2019 Miami Open and will make her first appearance in a main draw and will play against Whitney Osuigwe.

There is no clear favourites in Miami after a very unpredictable start to the season in the first three months with 13 different champions in the first 13 WTA tournaments of the year. Three players aged 21 or younger Naomi Osaka, Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu won the biggest titles this season lifting the trophies respectively at the Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells.

The Miami Open will be held for the first time in the Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the American Football team Miami Dolphins.

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