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Friday, 14 March 2014

Indian Wells Tennis Picks 2014 (March 14th)

We enter the final three days of the tournament in Indian Wells and there are plenty of surprising names that are still in the draws that makes this another event that people have been describing as a 'changing of the guard'.

Personally, it seems a little early to be describing the first two and a half months of the season in that manner and I still believe the names we have come to expect will be taking home the remaining Grand Slam titles this season.

It'll be interesting to see how the next two months develop as the European clay court will begin on the road to the French Open, but I know I won't be losing faith in the players that have produced so much top tennis over the last few years just yet.

And it also will be foolish to ignore the fact that three of the women's top five players in the world have made it through to the Semi Finals even without Serena Williams taking part, while Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have every chance of extending the dominance of the four big names in the men's game at the Masters level.

Yes, it is fun to see some new names in the final three days, but it may be familiar names taking home the title in the next couple of days.

Novak Djokovic - 5.5 games v Julien Benneteau: The first thing you have to remember is how awkward Julien Benneteau can make life for any player when he is on form and you have to expect he is feeling in a good place after reaching the Quarter Final here.

The Frenchman serves better than it may seem and he can produce enough quality tennis to really push the best players as he has shown in the past against Roger Federer.

However, Novak Djokovic produced some top tennis to see off Marin Cilic in the Fourth Round after blowing the first set spectacularly and I think the Serb is ready to reach the Final here. There are a couple of tough matches he has to negotiate, but Djokovic has the returning skills to keep Benneteau working for all his points and that may pay dividends when the match is said and done.

These two haven't played each other in a couple of years, but I believe Djokovic is playing well enough to come through with a 64, 62 win in this one as Benneateau's long week perhaps catches up with him after a tight first set.

Simona Halep - 2.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: The Romanian is moving up to a career high World Number 5 at the end of the tournament and will be looking for her third straight win over Agnieszka Radwanska.

Simona Halep has been in decent form again this week and is looking to pick up the biggest title of her career by winning this Premier Event after only recently achieving that mark by winning in Doha. She has had to come through a couple of tough matches this week, but Radwanska's game should be a little more comfortable to deal with than the heavy hitting that Lucie Safarova and Eugenie Bouchard are capable of.

There are going to be plenty of breaks of serve in the match for both players, but Radwanska's second serve is a real weakness and that is where I think Halep will end up making the most of her chances.

It will be a gruelling match as both players are capable of extending the rallies on a slower hard court, but I would expect Halep to be a little too tough and come through in three sets.

Na Li - 4.5 games v Flavia Pennetta: At first glance, I actually did think this was too many games for Na Li to give up in this Semi Final, but I expect her game is going to be a little too strong for Flavia Pennetta to deal with.

Both players had to come through in three sets in their Quarter Finals played yesterday, but Pennetta's was the longer and more gruelling match which may have taken something away both mentally and physically.

Li will add to that pressure with the heavy groundstrokes and a big key will be if Pennetta can improve her first serve percentage. She struggled in that regards against Sloane Stephens and it was the same problem for her when dismissed by Li at the Australian Open earlier this season.

There have been lapses of concentration by the World Number 2 at times this week, but she is still in the tournament and I think she will come through 75, 63.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 5.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 2.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Na Li - 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Indian Wells Update: 23-17, + 8.16 Units (80 Units Staked, + 10.2% Yield)

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