Sharapova sent packing by Osaka

Maria Sharapova was sent crashing out of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Wednesday after suffering a first-round defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.

The unseeded former world number one, who won in California in 2006 and 2013, fought hard but went down 6-4, 6-4 after having her serve broken on five occasions.

The 20-year old Osaka started strongly, breaking Sharapova in her first service game before racing into a 4-1 lead.

Sharapova then fought back, breaking back in game seven and then holding to tie things up at 4-4. The loss of serve didn’t affect Osaka though, as she promptly broke the Russian again at 5-4 to take the first set.

After three holds, the second set turned into a titanic battle as Osaka broke for 3-1, only for Sharapova to hit back immediately as the two exchanged four successive breaks of serves.

Osaka then managed to hold for 5-4 before breaking her opponent for the fifth and final time as Sharapova found the net to hand Osaka the second set and the match.

The win means Osaka will play former Wimbledon finalist and 31st seed Agnieszka Radwanska in round two.

In other action, former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard crashed out, losing 6-3, 6-4 to Sachia Vickery of the United States.

Qiang Wang of China progressed thanks to a three-set win over Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky.

Wang won 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with 22nd seed and Australian Open semi-finalist Elise Mertens of Belgium.

Another Chinese player in action was Ying-ying Duan, who fell to Kristina Pliskova 4-6, 6-7(5-7).

Pliskova, the twin sister of former world number one Karolina, now faces a tough match against world number one Simona Halep on Saturday.

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