Indian Wells | Osaka dumps Sharapova
Former world No1, Maria Sharapova, currently ranked 41 thanks to a series of wildcards last year which gave her the opportunity to get back into the system quickly following her drugs ban on her return to the Tour, crashed out of Indian Wells in the opening round on the first day of play.
I would have loved to stay longer -- it is just not going to happen this year Maria Sharapova
The two-time former champion was humiliated by Japan’s up-and-coming teenage star Naomi Osaka, 6-4 6-4
The Russian got off to a bad start as she trailed her young opponent 1-4 but did pull it back for 4-all but Osaka held her nerve for 5-4 and and go on to claim the set when Sharapova double-faulted.
Ranked 44th in the world, Osaka jumped into a 4-2 lead in the second set and as in the first, Sharapova got back to 4-all only for the Japanese teenager to claim the last two games and a place in the second round after 90-minutes of play.
“I wanted to do well here and not just because I won this event a couple times,” Sharapova said in her post-match news conference. “I would have loved to stay longer — it is just not going to happen this year.”
Osaka herself was pleased at winning their first ever encounter. “I knew (Sharapova) would fight for everything because I’ve watched her since I was little” she said. “I was just really honoured to play her.”
In other matches the Australian veteran Sam Stosur overcame a slow start to beat American Lauren Davies 3-6 6-3 6-3 while the 16-year-old and wild card Amanda Anisimova defeated 94th-ranked Pauline Parmentier 6-2 6-2 for her first WTA Tour win.
Caroline Dolehide, a 19-year-old wild card, fired 11 aces to outlast 78th-ranked Shelby Rogers, 3-6 7-6(6) 6-3 to end the match in two and a half hours.
Belinda Bencic saved a match point when beating Timea Babos, 1-6 6-1 7-6(4) while wild card Genie Bouchard, the Canadian who recently succeeded in suing the USTA for negligence and subsequent loss of earnings, continues to struggle on Tour as she lost to qualifier Sachia Vickery, 6-3 6-4.
Meanwhile attention will turn on Serena Williams’ return to the Tour after an absence of 14 months during which time she had a baby, when she plays her first round match on Thursday.