Naomi Osaka defeated another Grand Slam champion in the first round of the Indian Wells Women’s Pro Championship. Osaka was too strong for American Sloane Stephens in 3 sets: 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. For the 24-year-old Japanese, it meant her first win over Stevens, the 2017 US Open winner.
Osaka is back in Indian Wells, winning her first WTA title in 2018. The Grand Slam champion has been resting in recent weeks to recover from the season opener in Australia. At the Australian Open, the tournament they won in 2019 and 2021, Japan were stuck in the third round.
Osaka is now number 78 in the world
As a result, Osaka has fallen a lot in the world rankings. She is now number 78 in the world. Stephens (28) ranked 38th. Due to their position in the world rankings, the two Grand Slam champions did not have seeded status at Indian Wells and therefore had to participate in the first round.
Strong winds made conditions difficult in California. “I felt like I had to fight for my life,” Osaka said. “I played against Sloan and against the wind. But I kept telling myself she was dealing with the same conditions. I just had to handle it as best I could.”
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