INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - World No.1 Naomi Osaka continued her BNP Paribas Open title defense on Monday with a hard-fought win over Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins, 6-4, 6-2 to complete the Round of 16 line-up in the California desert.
Playing just her second tournament since winning her second Grand Slam title and taking the top spot on the WTA rankings, Osaka overcame another tricky opponent - having already avenged a Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships defeat to Kristina Mladenovic - to book her spot in the fourth round after 82 minutes on Stadium 1.
Osaka and Collins played for the first time last fall, where the Japanese youngster dropped just won game at the China Open; since then, Collins has gone from strength to strength, enjoying a breakthrough run in Melbourne to make her first major semifinal with wins over Caroline Garcia and Angelique Kerber.
Never lacking in confidence, Collins played Osaka tough to start the match, exchanging breaks early and saving three break points to keep the opening set on serve until the tenth game.
Osaka found another gear from there, turning around a 40-30 deficit to break and clinched the set with a booming forehand.
Osaka only increased her intensity in the second set, breaking serve first and roaring back from 40-0 down two games later to earn another.
Collins wouldn't go down without a fight, saving a match point on serve by charging the net and forcing a forehand error from the World No.1.
Osaka soon stepped to the line to serve for the match, opening the game with an ace and earning three more match points after striking a searing forehand winner. Two points later, the 21-year-old was victorious with the help of an emphatic backhand winner.
In all, Osaka struck an impressive 29 winners and kept her stats positive with 21 unforced errors; she converted four of nine break point opportunities and allowed Collins just one look at breaking serve while winning 73% of points behind her first serve.
Standing between the top seed and another BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal is resurgent former World No.7 Belinda Bencic; the reigning Dubai champion scored a straight-set win over Ekaterina Alexandrova to reach the fourth round earlier in the day.
More to come...