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Ranked Osaka, Halep crash out of Indian Wells

15 March 2019

"I felt somehow odd and the match was unusual", said Pliskova.

Naomi Osaka won her first career title at Indian Wells a year ago, propelling her to a career-best year in which she defeated Serena Williams for the U.S. Open title. The first set was great for me, and then I just tried to keep it like that.

World number one Osaka never found her rhythm against Belinda Bencic as the Swiss used her precise groundstrokes and pinpoint serving to topple the defending champion 6-3 6-1 in just over an hour.

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

"I feel like this is something I'm still working on, on and off the court".

Spain's Muguruza out-lasted seventh-ranked Kiki Bertens 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 while Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam victor, beat Germany's Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-4.

"[Matches like this] give me again confidence that I can turn around matches; that I can play also three sets; also in the close moments that I'm there, that I can trust myself", Kerber said.

"I was trying to adjust, especially with my movement at the end of the first set and beginning of the second, and I think that was the key to coming back".

"I think I did well", she said.

She will have another shot at a top-10 player when she takes on hard-hitting world number five Karolina Pliskova, who smashed 13 aces to dispatch Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (0) 4-6 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals.

"We are all sort of on the same page and we are all looking forward to Miami (Open)", she said.

Seven-time grand slam victor Venus Williams also found it tricky facing fellow American Christina McHale for the first time, but she pulled back early breaks in each set to win 6-2, 7-5.

The women's field lost its top two seeds as Romania's Halep, the 2015 Indian Wells victor, fell to Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. "But that was in the beginning of 2018 when you guys didn't know who I was".

"She was playing really fast and flat, so that was something I was not really expecting", the German said of her opponent. "So, I just had to go out there and try to stay tough and fight until the very last point, and it really helped me today".

Seven-time Slam victor Venus Williams kept chugging along, this time dispatching Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-4.

Osaka had won nine straight games at Indian Wells, but Martina Navratilova in 1990-91 remains the only women's repeat victor in the event.

Ranked Osaka, Halep crash out of Indian Wells