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Osaka keeps Indian Wells title defence on track


Naomi Osaka of Japan serves against Danielle Collins of the United States during the third round match of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California.
 Indian Wells (United States), March 12: World No. 1 and defending champion Naomi Osaka powered past American Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2 on Monday to book a fourth-round meeting with resurgent Swiss Belinda Bencic at Indian Wells.

Japan’s Osaka, whose second straight Grand Slam title at the Australian Open propelled her to the top of the rankings, traded breaks with Collins early in the first set. But she got the decisive break in the ninth game, giving herself a break point with a backhand winner before pouncing on a short ball and belting a forehand winner to give herself a chance to serve for the set.

An increasingly confident Osaka broke Collins at love for a 2-1 lead in the second. She finished out the next game for a 3-1 lead and led 5-1 before Collins saved a match point to hold and make Osaka serve out the match.

Collins, trying to build on a breakout run to the Australian Open semifinals, failed in her bid to avenge her 6-1, 6-0 loss to Osaka in their only prior meeting in Beijing last year.

And Osaka, whose first career title came at this prestigious WTA premier mandatory event last year, advanced to a meeting with Bencic, the 23rd seed who defeated Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 6-2.

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

The 21-year-old stunned two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the final at Dubai last month to capture her first WTA title in four years.

She won the WTA title in Toronto in 2015 before a series of back and wrist injuries saw her slide down the rankings. – AFP

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