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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Miami Tennis Picks 2015 (March 26th)

The Miami Open tennis tournament continues on Thursday and finally more recognised names for the casual fan will actually be taking to the court, including Maria Sharapova who will be desperate to finally get over the line and win the event. Sharapova also has to erase the poor run in Indian Wells last week by her own high standards and is the marquee name taking to the courts.

However, the bigger news story for most tennis fans will be the return of Juan Martin Del Potro for the second time in 2015- the last fourteen months have been horrific for the 2009 US Open Champion and I would love for him to have a clear few years from all the injury issues he has had to fight through. There should be a lot of eyes on him to see how he reacts on his return, but it might take a few weeks before Del Potro is once again comfortable on the court, while he might not have the confidence to really take on the best players on the Tour until much later in the season.

It isn't an easy draw for the Argentine either and I actually think Vasek Pospisil has the tools to take him out in the First Round.

Del Potro himself is most likely just hoping to feel good after the match, regardless of how it finishes, and get his season going at last.

The picks had a bit of good and bad luck yesterday- the good luck saw Jan-Lennard Struff somehow come from a double break down in the final set to beat Benjamin Becker, while the bad saw Juan Monaco blow a 75, 51 lead and fail to cover in his eventual win over Ruben Bemelmans. Alison Riske was a comfortable winner to make it back to back days with a profitable return and hopefully the beginning of a productive two weeks at the second Masters event of the season.

Borna Coric - 3.5 games v Andreas Haider-Maurer: Arguably the most exciting talent on the ATP Tour at the moment is Borna Coric with many tipping him to reach the very pinnacle of the men’s game. Even at his tender age of 18 years old, Coric has had victories over the likes of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray and he has full belief in his own game and what he can achieve.

Of course there are inconsistencies in his game which comes with the inexperience he has, but Coric is steadily improving up the World Rankings and should be able to knock off Andreas Haider-Maurer for the second tournament in a row.

When they met at Indian Wells, Coric came through the First Round match with a 64, 64 win and he was the much better player on the day with his excellent return game proving to be a real issue for Haider-Maurer.

I would expect more of the same when they meet on Thursday as Coric is the better player and Haider-Maurer doesn't really change his game plan that much. The Austrian doesn't have an intimidating serve and he can mentally check out of matches if they are not going to plan and it might be the same scoreline as when they met earlier this month with Coric moving through 64, 64.

Vasek Pospisil v Juan Martin Del Potro: Juan Martin Del Potro is one of the more popular players on the Tour and I expect he is going to get a really loud reaction in Miami where there is also a large Latin community that love their South American players. The fans will be right behind Del Potro, but I still think Vasek Pospisil can make his way through the match and find a place in the Second Round.

A fully fit Del Potro would be far too good for the Canadian, but he would still likely have a few nervous moments as Pospisil has the kind of serve that can see him rattle through games. Del Potro's return game has never been his most accomplished aspect, but it will likely be under more pressure as he deals with his nerves on his return to the court.

There is also little doubt for me that Del Potro won't be going at 100% in this one. Yes he wants to win and there is no point going on the court without that mindset, but all of the injuries over the last fourteen months would make anyone a little more careful. Pospisil has to know this and can't self-destruct with a host of errors to help Del Potro out, but Pospisil also has to play his natural game as much as possible.

Those issues makes this match a close one to call, but I don't think the layers are right in pricing Vasek Pospisil as the underdog in this one and I will back him to overcome a nervy and perhaps a little careful Del Potro.

Karolina Pliskova - 5.5 games v Annika Beck: Karolina Pliskova is a definite dark horse to make a big breakthrough on the Tour and win the biggest title of her career over the next couple of weeks and I expect the Czech player to be far too strong for Annika Beck.

I do respect what Beck is able to do on the court as there have been times I have watched her produce some stunning tennis, but her serve is an absolute weakness and that is where Pliskova can make hay. On the other hand, Pliskova has a decent serve when she gets into a nice rhythm and that might be enough to keep Beck from really pushing forward on the offensive and allow Pliskova to dominate much of this match.

Beck does have a decent return herself though and will feel she can certainly find a way to break the Pliskova serve, but the key will be holding and she will have to be a lot better than in Antwerp when these players met and the German was broken 6/9 service games.

Beck has also been in poor form over the last month and she had to battle through a tough opening match here. She might have some joy being more familiar with the conditions than Pliskova who plays her first match, but I can see this being similar to their match last month and the Czech player moving through after a fairly comfortably 64, 62 win.

Alize Cornet - 3.5 games v Elena Vesnina: There is always something of a risk backing Alize Cornet who can quickly lose her way on the court, but she has shown better form than Elena Vesnina over the start of the season and I expect her to move into the Third Round.

Vesnina was a very good winner over Alexandra Dulgheru in the First Round, but she has only won back to back matches once this season and has spent a lot of time losing in Singles matches. There is a lot of talent in the Vesnina racquet, but she has slipped off the standards she had been setting a couple of years ago and the errors come much more frequently these days.

The Russian will have her chances against Cornet who can be erratic and mentally check out of sets when seemingly in control. However, Cornet can point to a very strong head to head against Vesnina and to better recent form than her opponent. My concern would be that Cornet has lost a lot of sets very easily and needs to be playing well to beat Vesnina who can get into a roll when she feels good on the court.

However, this looks like a 75, 64 kind of win for Cornet after a number of breaks of serve. I feel she will be the player making less errors in the match and getting plenty of balls back in play should see Vesnina start to give up a lot of mistakes which can give Cornet the edge in the contest in both sets to come through with a routine win.

MY PICKS: Borna Coric - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Vasek Pospisil @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 5.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Alize Cornet - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Miami Update: 4-1, + 5.62 Units (10 Units Staked, + 56.2% Yield)

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