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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tennis Picks Indian Wells 2013 (March 14th)

Roger Draper has stepped down from his role as Chief Executive of the LTA in Britain and he has rightly been heavily criticised considering his 'performance' saw him being paid £640,000 per year.

He was grossly overpaid considering the under-achievement of reaching the goals that had been set and having only one male player in the top 200 on the day he decided to step down says it all for me. Some point to the success on the WTA Tour of Laura Robson and Heather Watson, but he has failed more often than not, while the grassroots haven't been improved to the extent they should have.

How Draper was doing enough to pick up a bonus that amounted to over £200,000 is an absolute joke, especially when that money could have been invested in making tennis more accessible to play to everyone in Britain. Unfortunately it remains the game of the rich (just go down to some of the tournaments in the UK and see the 'class' structure in place) and I feel disappointed that it isn't made cheaper for anyone to go and try their hand.

Hopefully the new person coming in will bring a change, but the LTA remains a 'big boys club' and I don't think there is much ambition there to actually do something positive to change the state of British tennis.

The picks had another positive day yesterday, although it could have been a lot better with a little more luck. On the other hand, four of the five outright picks are still alive with Petra Kvitova falling by the wayside in her Quarter Final defeat by Maria Kirilenko.

Sam Stosur v Angelique Kerber: This is a pick 'em contest, but I like Sam Stosur to make it three in a row against Angelique Kerber and book her place in the Semi Final here.

Out of the two players, Stosur has certainly been showing more signs of good form over the last six weeks and I certainly think she has the more impressive victories this week to get to this Quarter Final.

The manner in which Stosur came from a set down to beat Mona Barthel was very impressive and I think she will be too strong for Kerber in this one. I don't like under-estimating the German, but she can mentally wonder away in matches and I think the Stosur serve will prove to be the shot that makes the difference.

Kerber did reach the Semi Final here last season so she does have previous, but I think she will end up the wrong side of this Quarter Final and it will be the Australian that is in the last four.

Victoria Azarenka - 4.5 games v Carolina Wozniacki: Despite passing each other as Victoria Azarenka reached the pinnacle of the Women's game while Carolina Wozniacki was slipping down the Rankings, this will actually be the first time they have played since 2011 and likely the first time they will have a complete match since the back end of 2010.

Wozniacki has the 5-2 head to head record, but Azarenka is a much improved player since those days and I expect she will be far too good for the former World Number 1 (one of a number of poor former World Number 1's in my book).

The problem for Wozniacki is I just don't see an area where she can consistently hurt Azarenka in this one- Azarenka has the better serve, returns serve more effectively and is better in the rallies. Even movement, the strength of Wozniacki for so long, is probably favouring Azarenka as well and I do expect she can come through fairly comfortably when it is all said and done.

One thing to say is that Wozniacki has certainly been showing some positive signs of a return to form in recent weeks, but I don't think she is ready to compete with a player as good as Azarenka just yet.

Roger Federer - 1.5 games v Rafael Nadal: This is a fascinating match between these old rivals and the first time they will have met since this same tournament twelve months ago.

There are some question marks about both players ahead of this Quarter Final- Federer has not been in the best form to open 2013 and has a slight back problem, while this will be the first time in a long time that Nadal is playing a hard court match on back to back days.

I have never doubted Nadal's powers of recovery, but he has had a really tough Fourth Round match against Ernests Gulbis which went late and long. It will be interesting to see how he copes with that and I think the conditions may just favour Federer who has always enjoyed playing at Indian Wells.

Federer beat Nadal fairly handily here last season, but this will be closer with some doubts around his fitness. He has also looked a little tetchy at times here and I that is a concern, but I do think he is still capable of playing at a level that will be tough for Nadal to handle.

There is a real chance this goes the distance, but I think Federer finds a way to get through to the Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Sam Stosur @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 1.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 19-8, + 22.08 Units (53 Units Staked, + 41.66% Yield)

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