Defending champ Osaka gets Mladenovic revenge in Indian Wells opener

China's Zheng Saisai loses in first round of BNP Paribas Open - Xinhua | English.news.cn

China's Zheng Saisai loses in first round of BNP Paribas Open - Xinhua | English.news.cn

Mladenovic's 94-minute victory booked her a blockbuster clash with Australian Open champion Osaka after she upstaged the Japanese star at the Dubai Tennis Championships in February.

A break to begin the second set put her in complete control before another gritty hold for 4-2, although there would be a brief stumble.

Her surprise triumph at Indian Wells a year ago launched a 2018 campaign that would eventually include her first Grand Slam crown at the US Open.

"I've never been a defending champion before, that's new and I was really nervous", said Osaka, who booked a third-round meeting with American Danielle Collins, a 6-4, 6-1 victor over Kirsten Flipkens.

Third seed Petra Kvitová was the highest-profile casualty in the women's draw as the Czech lost a three-set battle 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 to American veteran Venus Williams.

"I just fought and tried my hardest", said Williams, now ranked 36th in the world.

Despite Kvitova firing down 10 aces, it was nullified, as she also hit ten double faults, gifting Williams the free points.

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Yet he double faulted on the third break point he faced in the game and Nishikori raced into a 6-2 lead in the deciding tiebreak.

The world's top-ranked man also won in straight sets, with Novak Djokovic beating Bjorn Fratangelo 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 in pursuit of a record sixth title in the desert.

Describing the clash as "weird", Kvitova said that she took the first set and was nearly leading the second set comfortable when Williams somehow made an incredible return to eventually snatch the win. "I just didn't play well today", said the Australian world number 33. "Suddenly I was leading in the second, but somehow I just gave her a chance again to be back in the match, and she took it", Kvitova said. "I think I played better than I did in the previous round", said Gunneswaran.

"I had a few bad volleys that cost me a break back, but I kept fighting, executing the plan", said Mladenovic. It feels like the ball stops for a split second while I am thinking about that.

Fourth-seeded Federer said he was relieved not to go to a second-set tiebreaker after falling behind 3-1 to the free-swinging German who is ranked 85th in the world. Then at the start of the year, I had a little strain on my thigh and I could not play in Brisbane.

No. 2 seed Simona Halep needed almost two hours to beat qualifier Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the third round.

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