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Thursday, 2 April 2015

Miami Tennis Picks 2015 (April 2nd)

It really hasn't been a good few days for the picks and yesterday was more of the same as Serena Williams produced arguably her worst performance of the season for the first two sets of her match against Sabine Lisicki.

She still dug down deep enough to move through to the Semi Final in the tournament she considers to be her 'home' event, but she will have to play a lot better if Williams is going to find her way to get past Simona Halep. The latter moved through to the Semi Final with an impressive win over Sloane Stephens and she is getting very close to completing the Indian Wells-Miami double that has proved very difficult for players over the last twenty years.

The two remaining Masters Quarter Finals are also scheduled for Thursday as the early hard court season comes to a close this weekend.

John Isner + 2.5 games v Kei Nishikori: I don't feel great going against Kei Nishikori in the form he has been producing over the last ten days, but John Isner has been serving very well and has the capability of taking at least a set in this one behind that shot alone.

There might be some tiredness in the arm after a very long match against Milos Raonic a couple of days ago which could be a negative against Isner, but the American wasn't broken in that game even if Raonic is hardly the best returner on the Tour. I would expect Nishikori to get a few more balls back in play that could extract errors from Isner, but the serve is also big enough to cause the very best returners an issue when it is on form.

The other aspect that sways me towards Isner on the handicap is that Nishikori's serve is not the best and he can play some sloppy games when serving. If he gives up a break, it might be tough to pull the set back and I do think Isner can take a set, although he will ultimately likely come up short in the match.

Ivo Karlovic was beaten by Nishikori last year on the indoor hard courts of Memphis and he has beaten Kevin Anderson twice already, but Isner's serve is arguably the biggest on Tour and he can stay within the number.

Novak Djokovic - 5.5 games v David Ferrer: Novak Djokovic has had a long month of tennis and could have been out of this tournament if Alexandr Dolgopolov had just held his nerve for a couple more games in the second set of that match.

Coming through that match and now being able to smell the end of the tournament should give Djokovic the extra bounce in his step that he is going to need to beat David Ferrer in this Quarter Final.

However, Ferrer is going to need to up his game if he is going to give Djokovic a run for his money after struggling through against Gilles Simon with the first set that was decided on a tie-breaker that could easily have gone the other way. David Ferrer saw his serve broken three times in that first set and he has to be better on that side of things if he is going to beat the World Number 1 who is defending his title that was won last year.

Matches between the players have been fun to watch in the past and I think this one will be intriguing, but Djokovic might just have had the one scare in the tournament and can find the breaks of serve to come through 64, 62.

Carla Suarez Navarro - 1.5 games v Andrea Petkovic: If you wanted proof of the improvements made by Carla Suarez Navarro over the last eighteen months, her come from behind win over Venus Williams in the Quarter Final would be an ideal match to watch. Tennis is not just about what you can produce on the court, but the very highest level has small margins of difference that can be made between the ears.

There is no doubt that Carla Suarez Navarro BELIEVES she is one of the better players on the Tour and so continued playing her way to get back to beat Williams despite being given a bagel in the first set. That mindset can stand her in good stead for the rest of the season and the Spaniard will deserve her place in the top ten of the World Rankings that she is likely to achieve following this tournament.

However, Suarez Navarro will be in for a battle on Thursday as she plays Andrea Petkovic who also has a lot of belief in her own talent and has had a memorable tournament already. After injuries saw Petkovic slip down the Rankings, the German is getting back to her best and she has upset the odds in the last two Rounds to reach this Semi Final.

I am expecting a lot of long rallies with the chance of this match needing a deciding set to figure out the winner. While Suarez Navarro has spent more time on the court over the last two matches here, I also love the way she has come from a set down to beat Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams and I think she is playing with so much confidence that she can wear down Petkovic in a 46, 63, 64 win.

Serena Williams - 4.5 games v Simona Halep: It was a poor performance from Serena Williams on Wednesday, but she battled through and had some interesting words after the match. There seemed to be some issues with the sun that affected Williams and I think returning to the night session might work in her favour against Simona Halep.

Williams will have to raise her level considerably in this match against Halep who has been playing well, but has a lot of tennis under her legs over the last three weeks. Halep hasn't had to play a lot of sets to get to this Semi Final, but her matches have been far from easy and she has had to come from behind in a couple of those sets to find her way through.

That might not be enough in this one as Serena Williams is one of the better front runners on the Tour and I think she can't possibly be as bad as she was in her match against Lisicki. The beating she was given by Halep in the WTA Championship at the Group Stage might have given Williams more motivation if her performance in the Final against the same opponent is anything to go by.

Serena Williams has to serve better than she did yesterday, but doing that will give her a real chance to come through this Semi Final as tiredness perhaps plays a factor for Halep. I think it will be a tough fight at times, but Williams has the edge in a 63, 64 win.

MY PICKS: John Isner + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Carla Suarez Navarro - 1.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Miami Update: 22-17, + 5.80 Units (78 Units Staked, + 7.44% Yield)

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