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Monday, 16 March 2015

Indian Wells Tennis Picks 2015 (March 16th)

It has been a pretty terrible tournament for the picks so far with another poor day in the office on Sunday. Some of the picks have just not been good enough, while the bit of luck you also need has seemed to desert me at the wrong time.

That was summed up by Svetlana Kuznetsova's defeat to Sloane Stephens despite looking the better player for the majority of the match and it was a missed forehand from inside the service box that cost the Russian the chance to progress. I am sure she is a lot more disappointed than I am, but it was still another pick that might have at least saved the day to a small extent.

During the long tennis season, you have to expect some of the down moments as well as the highs that I have seen over the first two and a half months of the season and the foundation for another successful season has been laid down. The next couple of days will determine whether Indian Wells is going to be a tournament from which I can at least reduce the losses, but 'chasing' losses has never been something I am interested in and another poor performance from the picks might see me put this tournament in the rear-view mirror.

We have reached the Third Round in both men's and women's draws and there were a huge amount of upsets on Sunday which has seemed to open up the draws. Those surprise results were mainly in the Premier Event, but Stan Wawrinka was beaten by Robin Haase in the Masters too.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal made progress in the bottom half of the draw and both will be expected to take part in one of the Semi Final matches later this week, although the former does meet Andreas Seppi who conquered Federer at the Australian Open.

John Isner v Kevin Anderson: This was initially priced up much closer to a pick 'em contest, but I still think John Isner is worth backing despite the money seemingly coming in on the American. The North American hard courts are the favoured domain for Isner and he has a strong record in recent matches against Kevin Anderson in what could be a quick-fire Third Round match.

Both men will look for their booming serve to make things easier, but I think Isner has the edge when it comes to the second serve and that small difference can separate the winner from the loser in the contest.

The American has won 4 straight matches against Kevin Anderson and Isner is also a former Finalist in Indian Wells so should enjoy the conditions for the most part. I don't think anyone truly likes playing in the hot and humid conditions the desert air brings to the venue, but his previous experiences here should put Isner in a position to win the match.

There will be a few service games rattled off in quick succession, but Anderson can see his first serve falter in pressurised situations and Isner may take advantage with a 64, 76 win.

David Ferrer - 3.5 games v Bernard Tomic: After a couple of positive appearances for the Australian Davis Cup team and leading them to wins in his two Singles rubbers, Bernard Tomic had an impressive straight sets win over Borna Coric in the Second Round here. He has got through to his Seeded Round of the draw, but now faces David Ferrer who seemingly is still producing some of his best tennis.

Ferrer has already picked up three titles this season, including back to back titles in Rio De Janeiro and Acapulco ahead of the first Masters event of the season. Confidence has to be high, although Ferrer does throw in a few more loose sets these days.

However, I do think the Spaniard has the edge over Tomic from a purely mental point of view in this one as he won't mind chasing balls all day and forcing his younger opponent to display a lot of consistency. That isn't always Tomic's strong point and Ferrer has won all 3 previous matches between these two players including in Acapulco last month.

There is always a feeling that Ferrer feels he can physically outlast anyone and he begins to wear down opponents who get flustered when they have to hit closer and closer to the lines to win points. I expect him to wear down Tomic in this one and produce a 64, 64 win and a place in the Fourth Round.

Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 games v Pablo Cuevas: Feliciano Lopez let me down in the Second Round as he gave up two breaks of serve in quick succession to fall just a game under the cover against Edouard Roger-Vasselin. That win might at least get his confidence up and I expect an 'easier' time in the office against Pablo Cuevas who saves his best tennis for the clay courts.

That isn't to under-estimate what Cuevas can do in the slower Indian Wells conditions with the court giving him time to produce extended rallies. He will expect to have a lot of success if he can force Lopez to hit more balls than he would like, but the service edge is definitely with the Spaniard.

Aggressive tactics may help to some extent too for Lopez, although this match has been scheduled for the evening and the ball may not fly as fast as he would like when attacking the net. Even with that in mind, I think the hard courts should favour Lopez more than Cuevas and it should allow the higher Ranked player to enforce his game on his opponent.

Nothing comes easy for Lopez, but I do think he has enough to come through with a 76, 64 win in this one.

Madison Keys - 3.5 games v Jelena Jankovic: It just goes to show the different trajectories the careers of Madison Keys and Jelena Jankovic have taken over the last nine months that their odds have flip-flopped at Indian Wells. The last they faced one another was in Eastbourne 2014 and Keys was a big underdog to win, although she did level the head to head on that occasion.

Now Keys come into this Third Round match as the favourite to progress and frank the fact she is on the way up the World Rankings and Jankovic is on the way down.

It has been a tough start to the 2015 season for Jankovic, although she showed there is still plenty of fight left in her by coming from a set down to beat Lauren Davis in the Second Round. Unfortunately for Jankovic, Madison Keys has a much bigger game than the diminutive Davis and she is unlikely to fall apart as quickly, especially if she brings in the form that took her to the Australian Open Semi Final.

The biggest concern I have for Keys is the injuries she has suffered early in her career, but this player has all the tools to become a multiple Grand Slam winner and I expect her power to be too much for Jankovic. The experienced Serb will cause some moments of real problems for Keys, but the young American should have too much in her locker and come through 63, 75.

Caroline Garcia + 4.5 games v Ana Ivanovic: This looks to be a lot of games to be handing to Caroline Garcia who dismissed Ana Ivanovic for the loss of just five games in Monterrey in the build up to Indian Wells. The Frenchwoman is another of the young guns on the WTA Tour who have been tipped for big things and her form has been solid enough to take her to back to back Finals, although she lost both of those to Timea Bacsinszky.

Garcia's youthfulness also means she is a player that can quickly fall apart if things are not exactly going to plan which always makes it a risk to back her, even with games in hand as she is given here. However, Ana Ivanovic is one of the more inconsistent players on the Tour who is just as capable of winning a set 60 and then losing the next 16.

Big things were expected for a rejuvenated Ivanovic in 2015 following her exploits in 2014, but she has been a little disappointing to this point and I think Garcia will have the confidence to push her all the way. Garcia looks a live underdog in this one which makes the number of games being given to her that much more appealing, while the win over Ivanovic last week should aid her confidence.

I will be looking for this one to be kept competitive and will back Garcia to at least get this into three sets which should see her cover as long as she doesn't throw away one of the first two sets.

Flavia Pennetta - 1.5 games v Sam Stosur: The defending Champion Flavia Pennetta has dominated Sam Stosur in the past including a win over her at Indian Wells in 2014 and I think that will give her the edge in this Third Round match. The fact she won the title here twelve months ago means Pennetta should enjoy the conditions present at the event and the head to head record of five wins from five matches should only increase her belief that she can get through.

I do have respect for Sam Stosur as a former Grand Slam winner as she has made the best out of her ability, but she is an erratic character who can throw in a few really stunning errors that puts her under pressure. The Australian has a very good serve, but doesn't always back it up effectively and is also facing an opponent who has a decent serve of her own.

That means breaks of serve are not always easy and aiding Pennetta through unforced errors will be tough to overcome for Stosur.

Neither player has been in great form to open the new season, but Pennetta seems to have a couple of edges which should help her come through with a 63, 36, 64 win.

Victoria Azarenka + 3.5 games v Maria Sharapova: This is the best match of the Third Round and could easily develop into the best one we will see in the Premier Event at Indian Wells this week. Victoria Azarenka is on the way back up the World Rankings following an injury hit 2014, but faces a huge obstacle in Maria Sharapova in the Third Round.

There isn't much love lost between these two players and I expect to see a tense match on the court in the evening session on Monday. Maria Sharapova has the better serve, but she can get a little tight on that shot and Victoria Azarenka will look to jump all over the second serve.

On the other hand, Azarenka has to find a way to hold onto her own serve more effectively and not allow Sharapova to get in front where she can begin to relax and start dominating behind heavy groundstrokes.

I can see both players having success in this one and that makes it a fascinating match, while the games being given to Azarenka could be enough even in a valiant losing effort. However, I think Azarenka is a live underdog who has every chance of pulling the upset, even if she has lost her last two matches against Sharapova.

This should be a great match to watch and I can see it going three sets which should be enough time for Azarenka to at least get within this number.

MY PICKS: John Isner @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Caroline Garcia + 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Flavia Pennetta - 1.5 Games @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Victoria Azarenka + 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Indian Wells Update: 5-10, - 11.80 Units (30 Units Staked, - 39.33% Yield)

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