Indian Wells: Belinda Bencic rekindles old rivalry with Naomi Osaka


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Indian Wells: Belinda Bencic rekindles old rivalry with Naomi Osaka

The women's top-half played its round-of-32 matches on Monday. The world no. 1 and top-seed Naomi Osaka came through in her third-round match against Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2 well in time before the rain hit and stopped play for the day.

Next up for Osaka is the Dubai Open titlist and 23rd seed Belinda Bencic. The Swiss player defeated Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova by the same score-line as Osaka, in 66 minutes. The most differentiating statistic of the day between the two players came up in their second-serve points won.

Bencic won around 48% of her second-serve points whereas Alexandrova could only manage 12%, which also helped further smoother Bencic's path to victory. This will be the only second time that Osaka and Bencic will play each other.

Their first meeting took place over six years ago, in 2013, in an ITF $25,000 event in Pelham. Osaka who was a qualifier at that event won in straight sets against the Swiss player. Recalling that win, Osaka told reporters, "I remember I didn't eat that entire day.

So I just went onto the court, and I just decided to hit everything, and luckily it went in, and I think that's how I won, to be honest." Then, with a touch of her trademark honesty, Osaka added, "She was just really, like, shocked, I think, because we were around the same age, but I didn't really play juniors, so nobody really knew who I was.

She was, like, a really big Junior star. She still is a star. That's how I tell that story." In these intervening years, both players have faced their share of successes and tough luck. Incidentally, this will be a match between two players born in 1997, which has also added to the match-up's intrigue.

Speaking to media after her third-round win, Bencic noted, "We try to push each other… I think we are all, like, different players, but still, I think the 1997 generation, it's so strong. And I think always one of us is doing well.

Sometimes the success, like, everybody has their own timing. So sometimes it takes longer; sometimes it takes faster." Photo Credit: Bein Sports