A somewhat surprising omission from the Stadium 1 schedule, Naomi Osaka will take on the in-form Belinda Bencic on Tuesday evening at Indian Wells. The defending champion finds herself on Stadium 2, looking to book a quarter final date with Anett Kontaveit or Karolina Pliskova. Check out the Osaka vs Bencic H2H.
Dubai champion Bencic has carried on her winning streak with two comfortable wins, most recently over Ekaterina Alexandrova. She was deadly efficient on break points, taking 6 of 7 in the straight sets victory over the Russian. The Swiss’ career trajectory looked to be heading the way that Osaka’s has a few years ago but injuries has derailed that. Now fully fit, a spot in the top 10 only seems a matter of time.
Osaka’s partnership with Jarmere Jenkins seems to be working well so far, with another comfortable victory in the previous round. She was rarely in trouble against Danielle Collins, defeating the American 6-4 6-2. The No.1 spot is still up for grabs so she must keep winning to ensure other contenders don’t get the opportunity.
If Bencic is back to her best, she is undoubtedly a threat to Osaka with her intelligent game style. The pair, both born in 1997, should be lynchpins of the women’s tour for years to come. However, it will be their first main tour meeting. Bencic was a winner in Hopman Cup action early last year although Osaka has shown a great deal of improvement since then. “I remember I most recently played her at Hopman Cup. I lost that match,” Osaka said. “I think that’s really amazing, the things that she’s done and the fact that she was able to come back from her injury and still play at a really top level. I know we both really want to win this next match.”
Prediction – Naomi Osaka in three sets