Indian Wells: Sharapova Loses To Osaka In First Round

Adam FlemingMar 11, 2018

The Russian has struggled to find form this season, crashing out of the Qatar Open in the opening round.

Five-time Grand Slam victor Maria Sharapova suffered a shock defeat on Wednesday to Japanese No. 1 Naomi Osaka, losing her opening match at the WTA Indian Wells tournament 6-4, 6-4.

Sharapova, a two-time victor in the California desert, was one of the event's major attractions after missing the last two editions, owing to her 15-month doping ban. Overwhelming unforced errors saw the pressure of serving to stay in the set being too much for Sharapova, and Osaka ultimately took advantage and took the first set 6-4 after 45 minutes of play.

She said: "I've been working through a few physical things and that's been frustrating because there's been a lot of starts and stops since and that hasn't given me the match rhythm that I really wanted".

In the only night session match of the day, Osaka, who beat defending champion Angelique Kerber in the first round of last year's US Open built a 3-0 lead in the first set.

The 16-year-old's poised and polished performance came in stark contact to the dismal display of Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who was humbled 6-3 6-4 by American qualifier Sachia Vickery.

She will face Russia's 23rd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round.

She trailed 4-1 in the first set before levelling at 4-4.

Samantha Stosur has set up a showdown with world No.15 Kristina Mladenovic after making hard work of her first-round match at the Indian Wells WTA tournament in California. A daring backhand passing victor at 4-4 30-30 saw Osaka claim the vital hold for 5-4, which meant that Sharapova once again had to serve at a critical moment.

All eyes will be on Serena Williams on Thursday when the American plays in her first singles event since giving birth last September, the two-time champion starting her campaign against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in a first round encounter.

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