AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Naomi Osaka’s three-set comeback win over Sloane Stephens highlighted round-of-128 action at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, on Thursday.
It’s not often that two Grand Slam winners face off in the round of 128, but fans were treated to just that.
Stephens won both of her matchups with Osaka leading into Thursday, but it was Osaka who got the win at Indian Wells.
It didn’t look that way initially as Osaka fell 6-3 in the first set. However, she rebounded in the second set for a 6-1 win.
Stephens broke Osaka early in the third set to go up 2-0, but the four-time Grand Slam singles winner proceeded to win six straight games to advance.
Here’s a look at some scores from the day alongside recaps and highlights of the Osaka-Stephens match.
Round of 128 Notable Results: WTA
Naomi Osaka def. Sloane Stephens: 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Tereza Martincova def. Heather Watson: 6-2, 6-1
Kristina Kucova def. Elena Gabriela Ruse: 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
Marta Kostyuk def. Maryna Zanevska: 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 7-5
Daria Saville def. Shuai Zhang: 6-3, 6-2
Yulia Putintseva def. Ashlyn Krueger: 6-3, 6-2
Jasmine Paolini def. Katie Boulter: 6-3, 6-2
Full Results: BNP Paribas Open
Round of 128 Notable Results: ATP
Filip Krajinovic def. Dusan Lajovic: 7-5, 4-6, 6-1
Mackenzie McDonald def. Marton Fucsovics: 7-6 (11), 7-5
Fabio Fognini def. Pablo Andujar: 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Jack Sock def. Juan Manuel Cerundolo: 6-1, 6-1
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina def. Borna Coric: 6-7 (5), 6-0, 7-5
Nick Kyrgios def. Sebastian Baez: 6-4, 6-0
Christopher Eubanks def. Maxime Cressy: 5-7, 7-6 (8), 6-4
Full Results: BNP Paribas Open
Osaka Earns Comeback Win
Stephens was tremendous in the first set, breaking Osaka’s serve four times to earn the 6-3 win:
she had a first serve percentage or 74 percent as well to Osaka’s 50 percent.
The turning point occurred with Osaka serving and the set tied at three. Stephens went up 40-0, but Osaka staved off three break points for deuce. Stephens earned the advantage, but Osaka fought back again for deuce.
However, Stephens persevered to win the game en route to overcoming a 3-1 first-set deficit.
The second set was all Osaka, who went up 4-0 en route to the 6-1 win.
Osaka nearly lost her serve up 4-1, as Stephens had three break-point chances. However, Stephens could not convert.
Osaka’s serve was on point in the final two sets, as she earned five aces.
The third set was a thriller early. Stephens got the early break and cruised to a 2-0 lead on her serve. It looked as though Stephens would go up 3-0 after earning three break points, but Osaka held her off each time. Eventually, Osaka won after a 12-point game.
Osaka wouldn’t lose another game:
Osaka ended up converting 8-of-14 break points, while Stephens registered a 5-of-17 mark in that department. Osaka also won 67 percent of her first-serve points versus Stephens at 43 percent.
Ash Andrew L. John or the Palm Springs Desert Sun wrote, Osaka won her first WTA tournament as an unseeded player at Indian Wells in 2018. Back then, she was an up-and-coming star emerging onto the scene. Her year was punctuated by a US Open victory over Serena Williams.
She’s still unseeded now, although her drop in the WTA rankings (No. 77 currently) was a result of her taking time off in 2021 to focus on her mental health.
Osaka appears destined to rise in the rankings quickly, though, after largely dominating when she’s been on the court.
She got off to a good start Thursday, fighting the elements (45 mph winds) en route to the win.
“I felt like I was fighting for my life,” Osaka said in an on-court interview afterward, per John.
“I was playing against her. I was playing against the wind. It was crazy. I just kept thinking that she was going through the same circumstances as me, so I just had to will myself to try as hard as I could.”
Osaka will now face Veronika Kudermetova (No. 21 in the draw) on Saturday.