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Osaka vs Bencic WTA Indian Wells live streaming, preview and tips - Osaka puts title defence on the line against Dubai champion Bencic

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 12 Mar 2019
  • Naomi Osaka vs Belinda Bencic is live from Indian Wells around 6.00pm local time on Tuesday (1.00am GMT)
  • First tour-level meeting between the pair
Naomi Osaka (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka continues her Indian Wells title defence on Tuesday when she takes on in-form Dubai champion Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

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World No. 1 and defending BNP Paribas Open champion Naomi Osaka faces a big test in the fourth round on Tuesday as she comes up against Belinda Bencic - the 23rd seed on an 10-match winning streak after claiming the Dubai title in extraordinary circumstances last month.

Returning to the scene of her first WTA title and breakthrough to the upper echelons of the sport, Osaka has done a fantastic job of playing within herself, blocking out all the hype, expectation and pressure and comfortable advancing into the fourth round. First up for the Japanese-Haitian player was Kristina Mladenovic - the player who beat her in the opening round of Dubai, but Osaka played a much better match this time around, especially on serve, as she eased past the Frenchwoman by a 6-3 6-4 scoreline. Part of the reason why Osaka played so poorly in that Dubai encounter with Mladenovic was because she was struggling with the media fallout after her shock split with coach Sacsha Bajin, who guided her to the Indian Wells title last year and was part of her camp as she won the U.S. Open and Australian Open.

Admitting the entire saga got the better of her in Dubai, Osaka arrived in Indian Wells in a better mindset, and so far it’s shown on court, with the 21-year-old returning to the court on Monday night for a third round showdown with Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins. The American is capable of matching Osaka when it comes to power, but the World No. 1 can maintain that level for much longer, and basically that was the story of the match as Osaka produced a clinical showing to dispatch Collins 6-4 6-2 and return to the fourth round.

Trying to defend a title for the first time in her career (she’d never even won a professional singles title of any description prior to Indian Wells last year), Osaka has impressed over her first couple of matches in the desert. Her run to the final 12 months ago - when she beat the likes of Maria Sharapova, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Daria Kasatkina - was one of the most incredible debut title runs in a Premier Mandatory in recent memory - and Osaka proved it was no fluke, of course going on to win her first major title at the U.S. Open later that year and qualify for the WTA Finals.

Developing a habit of timing her good form for the biggest tournaments, Osaka bounced back from a poor showing in the Brisbane semi-finals to surge to her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, downing Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova back-to-back to claim the silverware. And now, after a disappointing showing in Dubai, Osaka is looking in fine form once again in Indian Wells. But can she survive one of the tour’s most in-form players right now on Tuesday night?

Belinda Bencic (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Belinda Bencic is in the middle of a spectacular run of form that can be traced back to Fed Cup at the beginning of February, when she won her two matches for Switzerland against Italy’s Sara Errani and Camila Giorgi in straight sets. While those were great wins, nothing could have prepared us for Bencic’s incredible run to the Premier-5 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title a week later, with the Swiss beating four top 10 players on the bounce, saving match points against Aryna Sabalenka in the Round of 16 before a trio of three-set victories over third seed Simona Halep, sixth seed and defending champion Elina Svitolina and second seed Petra Kvitova in the final.

It truly was a jaw-dropping streak of victories for Bencic, reminiscent of her remarkable run in Canada as a teenager back in 2014, where she beat four top 10 players, including Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Halep to win the biggest title of her career and break into the top 10 at No. 7 in the world. Unfortunately, injuries have caused Bencic to tumble down the rankings in recent seasons (including outside the top 300 in 2017) and stopped her from immediately fulfilling her potential, but her Dubai title has propelled her back into the top 30 as she looks to continue her amazing form in Indian Wells this week.

Bencic isn’t showing any signs of slowing down either - she dropped just five games in her first win over Budapest champion Alison Van Uytvanck and six games in the third round on Monday against Ekaterina Alexandrova, who just beat Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round.

It shapes as a massive match for both players - Osaka can really sink her teeth into her title defence with a victory, while a loss piles on more pressure. Bencic meanwhile can continue her charge back towards the top 10 with another statement win and prove she deserves to be counted among the leading contenders for the title. Bencic is a completely different player to what Osaka has faced so far this tournament, and the Swiss does own a win over the World No. 1, beating her at the Hopman Cup last year. There’s no doubt Osaka has been impressive as well this week, but Bencic is on a roll, barely missing and on the run of her career. Could she be the player to end Osaka’s title defence and make a first Indian Wells quarter-final?

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Osaka vs Bencic WTA Indian Wells live streaming, preview and tips - Osaka puts title defence on the line against Dubai champion Bencic

Naomi Osaka continues her Indian Wells title defence on Tuesday when she takes on in-form Dubai champion Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

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