By Ros Satar, at Indian Wells

  • Marketa Vondrousouva def. Simona Halep [2] 6-2 3-6 6-2
  • Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Novak Djokovic [1] 6-4 6-4
  • Belinda Bencic [23] def. Naomi Osaka [1] 6-3 6-1

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA USA – The sun failed to shine on two of its former champions as defending champion Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep,and Novak Djokovic bow out.

 

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Marketa Vondrousouva def. Simona Halep [2] 6-2 3-6 6-2

Marketa Vondrousova in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells 2019

Marketa Vondrousova in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Another unseeded player is making waves out in the desert this year, as 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova knocked out the World No. 2 and former champion Simona Halep in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Getting her first Top 10 win with poise and confidence, the start of the match could not have been any more chaotic, with five straight breaks of serve with Vondrousova ability to hold twice helped her over the line for the first set.

Halep looked to be regaining some of the fighting form we have been so used to seeing from her as she made good on the only break point offered up in the second set, holding on to that advantage to level the match.

The breaks of serve rained down in the decider, with a brace to start the third set, two breaks for the Czech teen before a brief flurry as Halep grabbed a lifeline but was promptly broken to love.

Halep admitted there had been a few tears after this loss, although with the World No. 1 and a Slam title under her belt now, while the losses hurt, they do get shaken off a little quicker.

“The losses are easier now. I shake it off faster, but still, I’m disappointed and upset. Actually, today I cried after a long time. It’s normal. And I give 100% of my inside on every match, every tournament, so that’s why I suffer a little bit when I lose. But I learn from these matches. I’m looking forward for the next week, next tournament, and I won’t give up.”

 

Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Novak Djokovic [1] 6-4 6-4

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On any given day, Philipp Kohlschreiber can cause players problems, and today was one of those days for Novak Djokovic. The World No. 1 is a five-time champion with a three-peat to his name between 2014-2017 but this tournament can prove to be a bugbear for many.

In Djokovic’s case, he had not taken to the court since winning the Australian Open, and while his singles campaign came to an abrupt end at the hands of the German, he will still have a chance to get some match play in as he has reached the semi-finals partnering Fabio Fognini.

After their night match was suspended due to rain in an unseasonably cold Palm Springs, he acknowledged the hold-over really did not work in his favour.

“Well, night, I’m not so sure, but day, yes. I liked my chances more at night against Kohlschreiber, but it wasn’t to be last night. It was raining.

“But completely different conditions today. Ball bounces much higher. Obviously he uses his spin very well. I wasn’t feeling — I wasn’t playing well. One of those days. I congratulate him for, you know, playing tactically really well and getting me out of my comfort zone. He deserved to win.”

Some fun and choice Italian phrases from Fognini might just be the ticket, until Djokovic is reunited with Marian Vajda in Miami and the Sunshine Double concludes ahead of the European clay court season, where we would expect to see Djokovic mount a serious challenge for the Roland Garros title.

Djokovic continued: “I don’t enjoy losing, nobody does, but especially in a tournament like this, tournament where I have had plenty of success in the past.

“I thought I was in a good form. I was practicing well. But it just happens, one of those days. You just have to deal with it, move on, turn the next page.

“Miami is the next tournament singles-wise for me. I’m going to try to go all the way here in doubles. I’m really excited about that. And get some good practice in.

“Plenty of time until my first singles match there. Things to work on, without a doubt. I’m not at my highest level. I know that. But slowly building, and hopefully I’ll be able to peak in Miami.”

 

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Belinda Bencic [23] def. Naomi Osaka [1] 6-3 6-1

Naomi Osaka in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells 2019

Naomi Osaka in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, WTA Indian Wells 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Defending champion Naomi Osaka’s winning run in the desert came to an abrupt halt at the hands of the in-form Belinda Bencic, as her first title defence ended in straight sets for the gain of just four games on the board.

Bencic’s star is back on the rise after an appalling run of injuries in her young career, but many are excited to see what she is capable of, if she can remain fit and healthy. After all, she just battled past Petra Kvitova for the Dubai title and has blazed through all her matches here without dropping a set.

Osaka seemed happy enough to have survived the emotional and short-lived return in Dubai in the immediate aftermath of her coaching split with Sascha Bajin. At least it was a few more rounds, but even she had to admit she had been outplayed.

Osaka said: “I didn’t play that well. That’s one of the first things. But honestly, I think at a time like this with that score-line, I would usually feel very depressed and sad. But I feel pretty good right now, because I think, given the circumstances, I tried my best and I don’t really have any regrets. I tried to be positive throughout the entire match.

“Honestly, she was just playing so well, and she’s such an incredible player. I think there wasn’t anything that I could do in that situation, given how I was playing. As a whole, I think that that match was quite good.”

Play continues at the BNP Paribas Open at 11am (6pm GMT)

 

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