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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Indian Wells Tennis Picks 2014 (March 12th)

Yesterday saw the first of my outright picks of the week exit the tournament as Caroline Wozniacki was easily beaten by Jelena Jankovic and I will be losing another today after Marin Cilic and Novak Djokovic complete their Fourth Round match against one another.

That aside, it was actually a strong day for the picks with five of the six coming back as winners, including Na Li who did her utmost to blow the final game of the match that needed ELEVEN match points before she got over the line.

Li is also my main pick from the women's tournament and will need to improve markedly if she is going to win the event from the performances she has produced so far this week. However, the three main rivals that she would face at the Grand Slam level are either not here (Serena Williams) or are already heading to Miami (Victoria Azarenka/Maria Sharapova), so the current World Number 2 may not have a better chance to win a Premier Event.

Today we will see the men's Quarter Final line up set and one half of the women's Semi Finals as the tournament reaches the business end of the event. The second Masters/Premier Event of the season will begin the main draw a week from today in Miami, but none of the players left in the draws will be thinking about that with serious Ranking points on offer in the next few days.

Alexandr Dolgopolov - 2.5 games v Fabio Fognini: Some players do struggle to back up big wins, but Alexandr Dolgopolov had three surprising wins in the tournament at Buenos Aires recently in his march to the Final and so I am going to have faith in him in this Fourth Round match.

Beating Rafael Nadal is a huge moment for any player, especially one that has slipped down the Rankings over the last twelve months thanks to a number of very disappointing defeats. However, Dolgopolov will have good memories of dismissing Fabio Fognini's challenge in Argentina a couple of weeks ago and he has the awkward style that should cause plenty of problems for the Italian.

That has meant that Dolgopolov has won three in a row against Fognini, although I don't want to overlook the latter and the improvements he has made over the last nine months.

Fognini, however, has to work hard for most of the points he will win and he can go through poor lapses of concentration that should give Dolgopolov the chance to win the match, although it may need three tight sets to book a place in the Quarter Final.

Ernests Gulbis - 3.5 games v Roberto Bautista-Agut: I made the same pick when these two players met in Rotterdam last month and it only was a late lapse of concentration that cost Ernests Gulbis the chance to cover. He also had more break point chances than Roberto Bautista-Agut in that match and I believe Gulbis is going to have enough to see the cover come through this time around.

He had to fight through a tough Third Round match against Grigor Dimitrov which is a tough obstacle to recover from, but he will get chances against Bautista-Agut and Gulbis has also been serving very well over the last six weeks.

Gulbis will have some sticky moments against the Spaniard, but I think there is more about his game which is going to be well suited by the slightly slower court at Indian Wells. It should give Gulbis time to sit on his shots and I expect him to be a little too hard for Bautista-Agut to crack.

This time, I feel Gulbis will come through with a 76, 63 win.

Fernando Verdasco + 2.5 games v John Isner: Fernando Verdasco had to save a number of break points early in his win over Richard Gasquet, but I still think he is playing well enough to push John Isner all the way in this one and perhaps even win the match.

With the serve that Verdasco possesses, it will be tough for Isner to earn a break unless the Spaniard starts spraying the errors through the court. It should set up some easy points, but Verdasco is unlikely to close the chipped return so he has to be on form to make sure he doesn't offer cheap points to his opponent.

I have to respect the serving displays that Isner has produced too at Indian Wells so it certainly won't be easy for Verdasco, but he can steal a set at least in the match and that will make the number of games he begins with look pretty big by the end of the contest.

It will likely need three sets to separate the players, but Verdasco has a real chance winning the match outright too.

Tommy Haas + 3.5 games v Roger Federer: These two players are pretty good friends off the court, but that hasn't meant either rolling over for the other and I expect Tommy Haas to push Roger Federer all the way in the match.

Haas has been inconsistent in 2014 with injuries hurting some of his runs in tournaments, but he has played well in the first two matches here at Indian Wells and will feel comfortable on the courts.

The veteran has also produced some top tennis against Federer in their recent meetings and has found a way to take at least a set off of the former World Number 1. I also feel Federer, while winning matches, hasn't been totally at the races on the slower hard courts that may not be the best conditions for him these days.

It will need Haas to serve well from the beginning of the match, but he gets up for the challenge of facing Federer and although he might not have enough to win the match, I expect this to be a competitive Fourth Round to the end.

Agnieszka Radwanska - 2.5 games v Jelena Jankovic: This is a tough Quarter Final for both players who play a similar brand of tactics on the court, although the power is on the side of Jelena Jankovic.

I have been burnt by Agnieszka Radwanska in the last few weeks, but I think the back problem for Jankovic may be exposed in what could be a match featuring long rallies.

While Jankovic didn't have any effects against Caroline Wozniacki in the Fourth Round, she hasn't had a day off to rest and there is every chance she could be adversely affected in this one.

They haven't played in a couple of years, and Jankovic is improved from when they last met, but I still think Radwanska will find her way through.

MY PICKS: Alexandr Dolgopolov - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ernests Gulbis - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Fernando Verdasco + 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tommy Haas + 3.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Agnieszka Radwanksa - 2.5 Games @ 2.15 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Indian Wells Update: 19-14, + 7.40 Units (66 Units Staked, + 11.21% Yield)

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