2019 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells: Naomi Osaka vs Belinda Bencic | Preview and Prediction
This is the stage where the young Japanese star had announced herself last year by winning the first major trophy of her nascent career. Since then, she has pocketed two back to back Grand Slam titles, at the US Open and the Australian Open, by getting past veteran slam champions such as Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova. She has also risen up in the ranks and is now the world number one.
There was a minor dip at the Dubai Open when she lost out to Kristina Mladenovic, which garnered a lot of unnecessary attention as the surprising result came immediately after her much-publicised split with her coach.
But she has answered her critics by avenging her loss to Mladenovic in her first match at the BNP Paribas Open. It is not just the win, but the manner in which she dominated the match, that shows that she is very much back to her very best.
In her straight sets win against the French player, she kept a whopping 74% of her first serves in, of which she managed to win about 65% and the second serve win percentage was quite high as well. She broke Mladenovic serve three times and was broken only once.
Her performance against Danielle Rose Collins was even more impressive, where she kept up her good serving form and won a whopping eighteen points more than the American in the match.
Her opponent in the next round is Belinda Bencic, another youngster who was once touted as a future number one, before succumbing to injuries and poor form. But she has had a resurgence of sorts at the Dubai Open, where she won the title after getting the better of more fancied players such as Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina.
She has been in imperious form in her first two matches at the Indian Wells as well, against Alison Van Uytvanck and Ekaterina Alexandra. She won both the matches in straight sets and broke each opponent six times.
However, despite keeping a high percentage of her first serves in, Bencic has struggled on her own service games. She has been broken five times in the two matches. Against a confident Naomi Osaka, she cannot afford to play that poorly on her own service games.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka to win in 3 Sets