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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Miami Tennis Picks 2015 (March 28th)

The early matches managed to get through Miami, after a slight rain delay, but a lot of the later ones were unfortunately cancelled as the rain returned to Crandon Park. The next few days should be a lot better when it comes to the weather, but it also means Saturday is a packed schedule as the tournament looks to get back on track.


Victor Troicki v Simone Bolelli: After his long ban from the Tour, Victor Troicki made it very clear that his ambition was to try and get back into the top ten of the World Rankings, but he has hit a slight block on that path. Returning to within the top 40 is still very impressive, but Troicki needs to kick on again if he is to continue to move onwards and upwards.

Some disappointing losses over the last month of the season has curtailed his progress, but I am still surprised to see him set as the underdog in this match against Simone Bolelli. The Italian wasn't banned from the Tour, but had a serious loss of form that saw him taking part in a lot of Challenger events to rebuild confidence.

Bolelli has seemingly done that and could soon find himself overturning Troicki in the World Rankings and form guide is very similar between these two players. One aspect that might have made Bolelli the favourite here is his impressive First Round win over Marcos Baghdatis as well as Troicki's surprising early loss at Indian Wells, but I am not completely buying that.

They did play a close match in Sydney earlier this season and this is likely to be one that could go the distance too. However, I am not convinced Troicki should be the dog and will back him to win.


Jeremy Chardy - 2.5 games v Jurgen Melzer: Jeremy Chardy has not been in the best of form over the last month, but I still think the Frenchman should be too good for the veteran Jurgen Melzer who is seemingly slipping down the Rankings.

You have to respect how Melzer has played over the last couple of tournaments after qualifying for the tournament in Indian Wells and earning a strong looking win over Ryan Harrison in the First Round here. However, Melzer hasn't been producing that kind of level on a consistent basis and there is not the same bite on the serve nor the same athletic ability to get to the net to finish points off as a few seasons ago.

In saying that, Chardy will have to play a lot better than he has recently and all the losses he has suffered does have an impact on the Tour. His early defeat in Irving in a Challenger event last week would have been another disappointment and he could be vulnerable early in Miami too.

I still think he has more upside than Melzer these days and I believe Chardy can battle through to a 76, 64 win as long as he stays with the Austrian in the first set.


Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 games v Vasek Pospisil: Vasek Pospisil had to dig deep to beat Juan Martin Del Potro in the First Round and he will have to raise his level if he is going to beat Grigor Dimitrov even if the latter has struggled in recent weeks.

Since the Australian Open, Dimitrov has been beaten by Gilles Muller, Ryan Harrison and Tommy Robredo and none of those players should really be capable of doing that against the Bulgarian who is on the brink of getting back into the top ten of the World Rankings. I can't put my finger on what is wrong with Dimitrov because a lot of his problems seem to come from complacency on the court or not being ruthless enough to put away opponents when they are on the ropes.

That's strange to say about someone who has played in Grand Slam Semi Finals, but I think Dimitrov can do enough to beat Pospisil in this one. As good as the Canadian's serve can be, I would expect Dimitrov to get enough balls back into play and I'd expect him to be the better player off the ground quite considerably.

Dimitrov has to serve better than he has to keep the pressure off himself, and I don't think he is far away from having a really strong tournament. Stay focused and Dimitrov should come through with a 76, 64 win against an opponent who has been beaten fairly comfortably by all the top 20 players he has played this season.


Alize Cornet + 3.5 games v Carla Suarez Navarro: One of the most improved players on the WTA Tour is Carla Suarez Navarro who is very close to breaking into the top ten in the World Rankings. I will openly tell you that I never thought the Spaniard would be able to pull her game to that level and get as close to doing that and she continues to surprise me which is a very good reason to have respect for what Suarez Navarro produces on a tennis court.

However, there is no doubting that a lot of her game is about outlasting opponents in rallies and producing consistent tennis rather than overpowering them and that gives opponents a chance to dictate points. On this occasion it might not matter as Alize Cornet is not a player that will look to power through Suarez Navarro and I think the match up could produce some very good tennis for viewers.

The match up has been a good one for Cornet in the past with three consecutive wins over Suarez Navarro including in two matches last season, although I do think the latter is markedly improved since then. Suarez Navarro has definitely been in the better form with a lot of wins produced over the last six weeks, but Cornet will have confidence of her own knowing she has got the better of this opponent in recent matches.

It looks like it could be a close, competitive match which will feature a lot of breaks of serve both ways. I'd guess that Suarez Navarro outlasts Cornet and snaps her losing run to the Frenchwoman, but this number of games could be tough for her to overcome.


Ekaterina Makarova - 4.5 games v Elina Svitolina: Ekaterina Makarova has always come across as something of an introvert and I think that showed on the tennis court when she would struggle for consistency. However, that has changed over the last eighteen months and Makarova looks comfortable in the top ten of the World Rankings.

Makarova is yet to have a really consistent run in a tournament since the Australian Open, but her losses have come against some of the very best players on the WTA Tour as well as one in Timea Bacsinszky who is in exceptional form.

I would expect the Russian to have a more productive time against Elina Svitolina who has shown she has the talent to progress up the World Rankings, although her consistency within matches is tough for her to maintain. That has been the case when Svitolina has faced the best players this season and she has lost a lot of those sets either 61 or 62 which will give Makarova every chance to surpass this spread.

Svitolina has lost those types of sets in matches she has even taken a set and her margin of losses against the top players have all been very wide. She has been beaten by Maria Sharapova (8 game margin), Makarova (5 game), Serena Williams (8 games), Petra Kvitova (4 games), Victoria Azarenka (7 games) and Timea Bacsinszky (8 games), but has taken a set in four of those matches.

This might be a similar case with Makarova coming through with a 63, 46, 61 win.


Venus Williams - 3.5 games v Sam Stosur: Venus Williams and Sam Stosur haven't played each other since 2012, but it is the American who remains in the better form and could increase her strong head to head record against Stosur.

Despite health issues and age perhaps getting the better of her, Venus Williams is still entrenched in the top 20 of the World Rankings and has been playing very well in 2015. There is some physical issues preventing her from really becoming a threat at Grand Slam level, but Williams is a very dangerous opponent because she can still rally and produce some exceptional tennis.

She will always be helped by the serve, when it is working, and I think she can keep the pressure on Sam Stosur in this one. The Australian is going to start slipping down the Rankings as her inconsistent results has meant she has yet to win two matches in a row in 2015.

Stosur's serve remains a weapon, but her groundies can be erratic at times and the backhand remains a significant weakness. I'd expect her to stay with Williams for a while in this one, but eventually I think Venus will get her eye in and force Stosur to win more points off the ground which could prove to be her undoing.

After a battle in the first set, I am looking for Venus Williams to progress to the Fourth Round with a 75, 63 win under her belt.

MY PICKS: Victor Troicki @ 2.10 Coral (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Alize Cornet + 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Ekaterina Makarova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Adrian Mannarino - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units) Already Advised
Fernando Verdasco - 3.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units) Already Advised

Miami Update: 8-5, + 5.22 Units (26 Units Staked, + 20.08% Yield)

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