Osaka outlasts Stephens in return to Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Naomi Osaka made a winning comeback at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday, rallying to beat Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in a first round encounter of former great champions.

Osaka, who won in 2018 at Indian Wells, is back in the desert for the first time since 2019. She hasn’t played in a tournament since January when she lost in the round of 16 at the Australian Open . Having only played a handful of events last year, his ranking has fallen to 78th in the world.

Trailing 2-0 in the third set, Osaka fended off three break points to save and start a six-game streak to close the game in just under two hours. She broke Stephens three times in the set, including at love in game six.

Stephens, winner of the 2017 US Open, lost for the first time in three career meetings with Osaka. The American’s ranking fell to 38th, despite having just won the tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, last month.

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