INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - World No.1 Naomi Osaka says she's holding her head high after her BNP Paribas Open title defense ended with a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Belinda Bencic in the Round of 16. In the much-anticipated clash between the Australian Open champion and the streaking Swiss, who is riding an 11-match win-streak, it was the Bencic who came out firing and never let up.
"Honestly, I think at a time like this with that scoreline, I would usually feel very depressed and sad," Osaka told reporters after the match.?
"But I feel pretty good right now, because I think, given the circumstances, I tried my best and I don't really have any regrets. I tried to be positive throughout the entire match.
"Honestly, she was just playing so well, and she's such an incredible player. I think there wasn't anything that I could do in that situation, given how I was playing."
In their first tour-level meeting, Bencic held her position on the baseline and proved to be the more consistent aggressor throughout the match, breaking Osaka's serve five times.?
"It's really difficult," Osaka said. "I feel like I was going back, and then I started playing defensive, which isn't something that I should be doing, given how my game is.
"I felt like she had control when the point started. I think I was trying to be too aggressive in the beginning. And then towards the end, I tried to make a few more shots and mix up the depth. I think she was prepared for that, too."
On the whole, Osaka says she's happy with her first attempt at defending a title. Not only was she dealing with the pressures of her title defense, it was also her first tournament with new coach Jermaine Jenkins. ?
"I think it's always a bit tricky whenever you change someone in the team, but I feel like for a first tournament we did really well," Osaka said. "We communicate well. So I think that's a really big plus. I don't think it's going to be difficult.
"I think that we are all sort of on the same page, and we are all looking forward to Miami. I think it should be good."
Osaka will leave Indian Wells with the No.1 ranking intact and will head to the Miami Open as the top seed.?
"Miami is a tournament that I grew up watching," Osaka said. "Since I live in South Florida, I literally went to the venue and watched all the pros, and I always wanted to be like them. I'm fortunate enough to be in this situation now.
"It should be really exciting. I think everyone is looking forward to it."