Struff sends Zverev packing; Osaka keeps Indian Wells title defence on track

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Naomi Osaka plays a shot. Agence France-Presse

A sick Alexander Zverev was sent packing from the ATP Indian Wells Masters with a 6-3 6-1 defeat by fellow German Jan-Lennard Struff in the third round on Monday.

The night match between world number one Novak Djokovic, who is playing his first tournament since his Australian Open triumph in January, and Philipp Kohlschreiber was suspended with the top seed leading 1-0.

Struff saved all four break points he faced and took barely an hour to clinch his first career win over Zverev in five attempts.

Zverev lost to Nick Kyrgios in the final of the Acapulco tournament in Mexico nine days ago.

He said his main focus was to recover for the Miami Open that starts in Florida next week.

Next up for 55th-ranked Struff will be Canadian 13th seed Milos Raonic, who had his hands full before prevailing against American qualifier Marcos Giron 4-6 6-4 6-4.

Giron rued what might have been after failing to capitalise on a winning position.

Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka battled Felix Auger-Aliassime and his own emotions through three topsy-turvy sets to grab a 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) victory.

Seventh seed Dominic Thiem beat Gilles Simon 6-3 6-1 while Croat Ivo Karlovic defeated Indian qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-3 7-6(3).

Title defense on track: World number one and defending champion Naomi Osaka powered past American Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2 on Monday to book a fourth-round meeting with resurgent Swiss Belinda Bencic at Indian Wells.

Japan’s Osaka traded breaks with Collins early in the first set. But she got the decisive break in the ninth game, giving herself a break point with a backhand winner before pouncing on a short ball and belting a forehand winner to give herself a chance to serve for the set.

An increasingly confident Osaka broke Collins at love for a 2-1 lead in the second. She finished out the next game for a 3-1 lead and led 5-1 before Collins saved a match point to hold and make Osaka serve out the match.

Collins failed in her bid to avenge her 6-1, 6-0 loss to Osaka in their only prior meeting in Beijing last year. And Osaka,  advanced to a meeting with Bencic, the 23rd seed who defeated Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 6-2.

Bencic stunned two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the final at Dubai last month to capture her first WTA title in four years.

In other third-round action, three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber came from a set down to beat Russian qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

After dropping her serve in the first game of the second set, Kerber won seven games in a row to force a third set and take a 2-0 lead in the decider.

She was unable to convert four match points against Vikhlyantseva’s serve at 5-1 and was broken at love when serving for the match at 5-2 before finally putting it away.

She’ll be doing the same in the round of 16 against Aryna Sabalenka, the ninth seed from Belarus who defeated Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 7-5.

Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams also found it tricky facing fellow American Christina McHale for the first time, but she pulled back early breaks in each set to win 6-2, 7-5.

She’ll fight for a quarter-final berth against Mona Barthel, a 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 winner over Julia Goerges.

Fifth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova relied on a solid service game in a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Belgian qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure.

Agencies