Osaka Draws Stephens In Depleted Indian Wells Field; Top Seed Krejcikova Withdraws
The Top 2 players in the world – Ash Bart and Barbora Krejcikova – won’t be playing Indian Wells, but 11 of the Top 15 will be there including Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Anett Kontaveit, Garbine Muguruza and defending champion Paula Badosa.
But the real stars are not in the Top 10, specifically Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, Emma Raducanu and Coco Gauff who all will be in attendance and on Stadium 1.
Osaka, who won Indian Wells in 2018, will take on fellow US Open winner Sloane Stephens in the biggest match of the first round in either draw.
Osaka is now ranked No. 78, Stephens No. 38 after her Guadalajara title run last month.
Much like the rest of the WTA, Indian Wells has been up for grabs of late with eight different champions in the last eight editions of the women’s event.
Earlier, Krejcikova withdrew after the draw was made due to an elbow injury. Alize Cornet will take her spot at the top of the draw, and the Frenchwoman could face Gauff in the fourth round, though the American teen might have Halep in the third round. The No. 7 Pliskova, making her 2022 debut, is now the highest seed in the top quarter, and No. 3 Swiatek the highest in the top half.
Six Top 10 seeds are in the bottom half including two-time champion and 2021 finalist Victoria Azarenka could meet Sabalenka in her fourth round, as well.
Seeding R16 projections:
 Alize Cornet v  Coco Gauff
 Emma Raducanu v  Karolina Pliskova
 Iga Swiatek v  Angelique Kerber
 Elina Svitolina v  Garbine Muguruza
 Paula Badosa v  Jelena Ostapenko
 Jessica Pegula v  Anett Kontaveit
 Maria Sakkari v  Ons Jabeur
 Victoria Azarenka v  Aryna Sabalenka
Due to the 32 seeding, there’s little to chew on in the first round other than Osaka-Stephens, but the second round could see Raducanu-Yastremska, Tauson-Kenin, Riske-Muguruza, Fernandez-Anisimova and Osorio-Kvitova.
Along with Osaka and Azarenka, other former champions are Halep and Vera Zvonareva.
Last fall, Badosa stunned Azarenka in October.
Women’s play begins Wednesday
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