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Tennis: Osaka ousts former No. 1 Sharapova at Indian Wells

LOA ANGELES (Kyodo) -- Japan's Naomi Osaka got off to an impressive start at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday, advancing to the second round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova.

    On a cool night in Indian Wells, the 20-year-old Osaka put on a powerful hitting display to wrap up the hard-fought first meeting between the pair in 1 hour, 37 minutes.

    World No. 44 Osaka, ranked three places below Sharapova and 10 years her junior, said she was ready for a tough battle against the five-time Grand Slam winner.

    "I knew (Sharapova) would fight for everything because I've watched her since I was little," Osaka told following the match. "I was just really honored to play her."

    Osaka raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set before Sharapova, a two-time Indian Wells champion, fought her way back to level the score at 4-4. The Japanese youngster kept her composure, however, reeling off multiple forehand winners on her way to wrapping up the set.

    The pair exchanged breaks twice in the second set before Osaka again took control at 4-4, booking her ticket to the second round by winning match point against the Russian's serve.

    Osaka will face world No. 31 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the second round on Friday.


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