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Friday, 15 March 2013

Tennis Picks Indian Wells 2013 (March 15th)

The tennis programme was disrupted yesterday as both Women's Quarter Finals didn't even get started with withdrawals for both Sam Stosur and Victoria Azarenka.

However, the big match between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer did go ahead and it was very anti-climatic in the end as the latter just wasn't fit enough to get anything going.

It wasn't just the injury, but Nadal playing at a very high level that also saw the match swing the way of the Spaniard. Much like many of their previous matches, the Federer backhand was the weakest shot in the match and he wasn't able to dictate with the forehand which led to an easy win for Nadal.

Unlike the commentators though, I still saw some weaknesses in Nadal's game on his comeback that will likely be exposed by either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray, but more likely by the former. When Nadal was attacking the Federer backhand, he was still leaving the ball a little short and while that works against the World Number 2, Djokovic will be given time to rip his double hander both down the line and cross-court.

That was the main shot that helped Djokovic begin to dominate the head to head with Nadal over the last couple of seasons and I have little doubt that it will still prove to be the difference when they meet at the moment. However, it is good for the game that Nadal is back and I hope his recovery keeps going in the right direction so we have some big moments to look forward to in the coming months as we approach the French Open and Wimbledon.

One other tough aspect of the Victoria Azarenka withdrawal was that she was my main pick in the outright market from the Women's draw and that means both my picks from that tournament have fallen by the wayside. Roger Federer was another I had onside, but it is not all doom and gloom with both Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych both still involved.

Novak Djokovic - 4.5 games v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga showed tremendous resilience to beat Milos Raonic in the last Round considering he was struggling with a knee issue, but I think that will prove to be the difference in this match.

Unlike Raonic, Novak Djokovic is a very effective returner of serve and so Tsonga will not be given too many opportunities to rattle through his own service games and will be forced to earn his games. With a knee issue in his mind, it can be tough mentally to find enough big shots to beat someone with the defence that Djokovic has and it's a tough ask for the Frenchman in my opinion.

I am expecting Djokovic to find a way to grab a couple of breaks of serve in one of the sets and I am expecting the World Number 1 to roll in this one. Tsonga has not been serving that effectively this week and I think this is too much for him at this moment in time.

Andy Murray - 2.5 games v Juan Martin Del Potro: Anyone who has watched tennis for a few years will know there is no love lost between these two players who have known one another since they were kids.

This is going to be a close match, but I do think the conditions will likely favour Andy Murray a little more as he will be able to get more balls back in play and also be able to defend a little more effectively. It will give Juan Martin Del Potro the chance to swing freely on the slower court, but the big man has looked a little short of fitness and it is mentally taxing trying to hit through a player that continues to make you play one more shot.

It is no real surprise that Murray has the 5-1 head to head record against Del Potro, but many of their matches have been fairly close for the most part. I wouldn't be surprised if this one goes to a third set, but I think Murray will likely find a way to get the job done and I do think he will be able to cover this spread with a 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 win.

Angelique Kerber v Caroline Wozniacki: This is a very slow court in Indian Wells and I think a few of the players have mentioned that it is almost 'clay court prepped' and with that in mind, I am not sure why Angelique Kerber is the underdog in a match against Caroline Wozniacki.

If this was on a clay court, I would favour the German and I think the conditions are going to suit her a little better than Wozniacki. It also has to be taken into consideration that Kerber has won three matches in a row against the Dane, including in three different conditions (one hard court, one clay court, one indoor hard court).

This is likely going to be a match where a deciding set is going to be required, but I think the underdog is going to have plenty of bite in this one. Kerber has won 6 of the last 7 sets that they have competed against one another within the last twelve months and she has to be worth backing in this Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 2.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber @ 2.20 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 19-9, + 20.08 Units (55 Units Staked, + 36.51% Yield)

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