??? BNPPO19, Indian Wells – R4 Preview
?? (1) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? (23) Belinda Bencic
Two of the WTA tour’s most in form players will collide in Indian Wells on Tuesday evening when Naomi Osaka comes up against Belinda Bencic. This match-up sees the world number 1, defending Indian Wells champion and reigning US Open / Australian Open champion take on a resurgent Belinda Bencic who is on a 10-match winning streak having arrived in Indian Wells fresh from winning the title in Dubai.
Naomi Osaka was under pressure heading into this event and there were some real question marks surrounding her title defense after she split with her coach a few weeks ago and lost her opening round match in Dubai. However, Osaka has made a strong start in Indian Wells. The world number 1 started the event with a 6-3 6-4 win over Kristina Mladenovic, avenging her loss to the Frenchwoman in Dubai last month. Osaka then went on to produce an impressive performance to blast her way past Danielle Collins 6-4 6-2, if she maintains that level she will be hard to beat this week.
Belinda Bencic has been totally untroubled in her first couple of matches in Indian Wells. Bencic started the event with a 6-4 6-1 win over Alison Van Uytvanck before defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 6-2. Bencic is on a roll at the moment, momentum is certainly on Bencic’s side and she will need all of that positive energy when she takes on the world number 1 in the next round.
Osaka and Bencic have never met at the tour level before. They have previously played at the Hopman Cup last year where Bencic won in straight sets and at an ITF event in 2013 where Osaka won in straight sets, these previous results are mostly irrelevant. It will be interesting to see how their first tour level encounter unfolds.