Osaka, Venus into fourth round at Indian Wells

Published by AP / Tennismash

Thanks to her third-round victory over Danielle Collins, defending champion Naomi Osaka has now won nine consecutive matches at Indian Wells (Getty Images)
Defending champion Naomi Osaka comfortably handles Danielle Collins after Venus Williams reaches the fourth round for the third straight year in the Californian desert.

Naomi Osaka rolled past Danielle Collins 6-4 6-2 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday night, keeping the world’s No.1 player on track to defend her title.

Australian Open 2019 semifinalist Collins struggled with her serve throughout the match, committing seven double faults and connecting on just 47 percent of her first serves.

Osaka’s first serve percentage was 66, and she won 70 percent of her first-serve points, with three aces; she was also aggressive off the ground, striking 26 winners – including several in a flurry as she was serving for the match in the final game.

“I’m enjoying it here, I have really good memories,” said Osaka, who takes her winning streak at Indian Wells to nine matches.

Osaka won her first career title at Indian Wells a year ago, propelling her to a career-best year in which she defeated Serena Williams for the US Open title. She began this year by winning the Australian Open and moving to the top of the rankings.

Venus Williams, meanwhile is turning back her own clock, moving into the fourth round with a 6-2 7-5 victory over qualifier Christina McHale.

Williams is seeking her 50th career WTA Tour title in the desert, where she has never won the event. And at 38, she’s showing vintage form.

“I don’t really play that often, so when I do, I need to play well,” she said, after reaching the fourth round for a third straight year. “It’s extra motivation for me to play just a little bit better out there.”

Ranked 36th in the world, Venus Williams endured three sets in her first two matches. She rallied past Andrea Petkovic in the opening round and followed up by outlasting No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova in a third-set tiebreaker.

Kvitova had made the finals in two of her first three tournaments this year.

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Williams, who made the semifinals in the desert last year, was playing McHale for the first time, and rallied from early breaks down in both sets to win.

“I never played her, so it’s also you’re out there learning,” Williams said.

Earlier on Monday, No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova eased past qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure 6-3 6-2, while eighth seed Angelique Kerber outlasted qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva 3-6 6-1 6-3

No.9 Aryna Sabalenka defeated 24th-seeded Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 7-5 and will next play Kerber in one of the best matches of the round for a shot at the quarterfinals.

Two seeded women lost: No. 11 Anastasija Sevastova, who retired trailing 5-0 in the first set against No.21 Anett Kontaveit, and No.15 Julia Goerges, who lost to Mona Barthel 7-5 1-6 6-4.

Barthel, a former top-25 player, is currently ranked 97th, and will face Venus next for a place in the last eight at Indian Wells.

Belinda Bencic, meanwhile, extended her winning streak to 10 matches with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Swiss star, who won the recent title in Dubai, will take on Osaka next after improving her win-loss record in 2019 to 16-3.

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