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March 8 - 21, 2021

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Bencic Shocks Defending Champ

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - Belinda Bencic plays Naomi Osaka in the 4th round of the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 2 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)

by Richard Osborn

Swiss Extends Win Streak Against Top-10 Competition

Belinda Bencic continued the exodus of top seeds on Tuesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, shocking defending champ and world No. 1 Naomi Osaka, 6-3, 6-1, to reach the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals.

Earlier in the day, Novak Djokovic, seeking a record sixth title in the California desert, was ousted by 39th-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-4, 6-4.

“I played a pretty great match,” said Bencic, who is riding a five-match win streak against Top-10 opponents. “That’s what you have to do against a great champion like Naomi.”

Now ranked No. 23, Bencic is a former Top-10 player herself, having climbed to a career-high No. 7 in 2016. But the Swiss underwent wrist surgery in 2017 and missed five months. As a result, she fell outside the Top 300.

“Some injuries set me back,” said Bencic. “I’m just enjoying being back on the court again. I’m just feeling great on the court right now. I feel like the hard work is paying off.”

The win comes just two days after Bencic’s 22nd birthday. But she won’t have much time to celebrate. She’ll next face either Karolina Pliskova or Anett Kontaveit. Either way, it will be a first-time matchup.

Osaka arrived in Indian Wells last year with a ranking in the mid-40s. Few expected the Japanese baseliner to capture the Premier Mandatory event — her first WTA title — and kick-start a run that would see her win both the US Open and Australian Open, and rise to the top of the rankings.

Bencic converted five of eight break-point chances in the one-hour, six-minute match.

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