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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Miami Tennis Picks 2016 (March 30th)

So this is going to be my last post until next Tuesday with a few days planned away in Las Vegas and Dallas.

Suffice to say I won't have a lot of time to be accessing the internet in the coming days so good luck to all of you out there.

Angelique Kerber - 1.5 games v Madison Keys: This is a very important tournament for Angelique Kerber who has struggled to deal with being the Australian Open Champion. The German has at least put together some wins in Miami and the way she battled past Timea Babos in the Fourth Round will give Kerber the belief she can go all the way this week.

It is a big test for her against the big hitting Madison Keys who has played very well this week and she is yet to drop a set. When the serve is working, Keys can follow with some big forehands and that can take the racquet out of the hands of her opponents and is the reason so many have tipped the American to get to the top of the women's game.

She will need all of that to beat Kerber as Keys has struggled with her own consistency but looks set to return to the top 20 in the World Rankings. I can see this being a close match with Kerber frustrating Keys at times, while the latter will also be able to hit through the defences of the latter.

However I think ultimately it will come down to Kerber being able to negate the Keys weapons for just long enough to win the match and move through. She has won three of four against Keys although the last two matches have been very closely contested and I think Kerber has the confidence from a decent week to this point behind her to help her come through to the Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Angelique Kerber - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Miami Update: 15-7, + 12.52 Units (44 Units Staked, + 28.45% Yield)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Miami Tennis Picks 2016 (March 29th)

The tennis continues in Miami today with the Fourth Round of the Masters tournament and the first two Premier Event Quarter Finals.

Hopefully another strong day to follow Monday and what has been a very good tournament for the picks so far.

Tomas Berdych - 1.5 games v Richard Gasquet: This looks to be one of the stronger Fourth Round matches on paper. Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet have played some close matches in the past and the thirteen previous matches have been split 7-6 in favour of Gasquet after he won the most recent meeting at the US Open.

That ended a run of three consecutive wins for Berdych, although it has to be noted that Gasquet has won the last two matches between them on the American hard courts.

Both players have something to prove this week as they have perhaps not come through the draw with the ease expected. Gasquet really looked to be struggling in the humidity in his Second Round match, while Berdych would not have expected to drop a set to Steve Johnson in the last Round.

Where I favour Berdych is he is a little stronger behind serve which should see him avoid the backhand to backhand rallies that Gasquet should win. In doing that Berdych should build some scoreboard pressure and eventually wear down the Frenchman in a three set win that sees him cover.

Gael Monfils - 1.5 Games v Grigor Dimitrov: His supporters will no doubt be thinking that Grigor Dimitrov is ready to get his 2016 season going after his win over Andy Murray in the Third Round. However there have been some false dawns in his performances already this season as the Bulgarian tries to forget the last twelve months which have been difficult to say the least.

I think he would have hoped for a better match up than facing Gael Monfils who has won the three previous matches between the two. Monfils looks more focused than at any time in his professional career and that has resulted in more consistent results.

Whether it is the athleticism or the superior defensive skills, Monfils has enjoyed playing Dimitrov. His serve is also underrated which gives the Frenchman some easier points and I think he may surprise Dimitrov coming off a big win.

I say surprise but the layers have got things spot on for me in making Monfils a fairly strong favourite. I believed they might go with the bigger 'name' but I agree with the layers that Monfils is the favourite to progress and I will back him to do while covering this number.

Kei Nishikori - 3.5 games v Roberto Bautista Agut: I really didn't expect Roberto Bautista Agut to come through and beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That belief would have been less so when he dropped the first set 62, but goes to show the confidence the Spaniard has off the back of a couple of title wins in 2016.

However he is going to have to dig mighty deep again if he is going to beat Kei Nishikori who has won all three previous matches. All three might have been tight in terms of sets played, but Nishikori has worn down Bautista Agut each time.

It is hard to see this one going much differently- Bautista Agut is surprising no one with what he brings to the court. Unfortunately this looks a match where everything he does is bettered by Nishikori and so it is hard to see how he wins the match.

Both players have a weakness when it comes to the serve, but Nishikori is more consistent, a better defender and has more of an ability to turn defence into attack. Those factors should make the difference and I expect Nishikori to continue his dominance of this head to head and come through 63, 76.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Timea Bacsinszky: Confidence has been an issue for Simona Halep in 2016 but there are signs things are picking up. While she hasn't been at her dominating best, Halep has played really well in patches to see off all opponents so far this week without too many difficulties.

This is arguably the biggest test as she faces Timea Bacsinszky in the first Quarter Final in the WTA Premier Event. Bacsinszky hasn't played up to the level of 2015 but she is coming into a great part of the year for her with the clay court season and the confidence of a strong run in Miami can't be underestimated.

The Swiss player seems to be one that will build up some steam with a few wins under her belt and will make life tough for Halep. However, I think the latter is very happy in the conditions and she can make use of those to earn the victory.

She might not be at her very best just yet, but Halep is good enough to win this match. Halep has the consistency to battle through her tough moments and I will back her to move through to the Semi Final behind a 64, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 1.5 Games @ 1.75 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori - 3.5 Games @ 1.67 Bet36 (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Monday, 28 March 2016

Miami Tennis Picks 2016 (March 28th)

The Miami Open continues on Monday but the rest of the week looks like it will be disrupted by the weather.

On Monday we are expecting some rain delays later in the afternoon which might mean matches are postponed or pushed back until much later in the evening.

It has been a good tournament for the picks so far, but Saturday proved to be the first losing day of the week and I am hoping that is not the start of a negative trend. On Sunday I didn't have any picks from the host of matches being played, but Monday seems to be a better day on that front and I am looking for a positive return to get the week moving back in the right direction for the picks.

Kei Nishikori - 3.5 games v Alexandr Dolgopolov: This Third Round match looks like it could be a very entertaining one if both Kei Nishikori and Alexandr Dolgopolov are in top form. Both players can produce some exceptional winning tennis, but I am not surprised that Nishikori has won all three previous matches between them as he is the much more consistent player.

As much as Dolgopolov possesses almost every shot in the playbook, his shot selection can let him down with an inability to avoid playing those that gets the crowd gasping rather than those that will win points. There are times the Ukrainian puts it all together to be a very difficult player to knock off, but too often those sloppy shots make him vulnerable to protect serve and thus give his opponent a chance to take control.

I do sometimes wonder about Nishikori and whether he is able to take the next step in his career in the manner he plays. He is a very good player to watch, but I am not sure he has the firepower to really compete with the very best players, while the fitness concerns are still there for all to see.

However, Nishikori has the consistency to beat those lower down the World Rankings and I think he will knuckle down at the big moments to come through this one 64, 64. The Japanese star should be able to create more chances to break serve and that should result in the cover in this one.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 2.5 games v Roberto Bautista Agut: A strong start to the 2016 season from Roberto Bautista Agut should have given him plenty of confidence, but the Spaniard suffered a disappointing loss last week to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. He will have to be at his best when he faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who had a strong week at the last Masters event and started in Miami with a convincing win over Santiago Giraldo.

This match is very much about two different styles that will be on display as Tsonga will look to play an aggressive brand of tennis and Bautista Agut will hope to use his defence to force the Frenchman to play a lot of extra shots.

The conditions in Miami might give Bautista Agut every chance to do that, and serving well will give him a real opportunity to win this match. However, I do think Tsonga is not that concerned about slower conditions as he can hit through the court with the power he has and it doesn't expose the movement issues he can have.

The backhand to backhand battle will be key for Bautista Agut if he is going to surprise, but I think Tsonga might prove a little too good on the day. Serving effectively will put the scoreboard pressure on Bautista Agut and I think Tsonga will win this one 76, 64.

Gael Monfils - 3.5 games v Pablo Cuevas: When these two players met at the French Open last season, it took five intriguing sets to separate them. This Third Round match in Miami should be interesting to watch, but I am a little more convinced that Gael Monfils can make this a slightly more routine day in the office.

Pablo Cuevas had a very productive Golden Swing in South America following the Australian Open, but the hard courts have been more of an issue for him. The serve is not the biggest on the Tour and it can be difficult for Cuevas to protect it on the hard courts, although the Miami courts might be the ones that suit his game the best.

However I have to say I like the way Gael Monfils has been approaching his tennis in 2016 with what looks a lot more motivation for success rather than merely entertaining. I think it will always be difficult for Monfils to separate the entertainer from the tennis player who wants to win titles, but he has looked better and more convincing with his performances.

If Monfils is serving well he should have a considerable edge in this one although Cuevas will have some success too just with the way he is able to extend rallies and use his consistency to wear down opponents. In this one I am expecting Monfils to just serve well enough to break down Cuevas' game and I will back him to move forward with something like a 75, 64 win.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Heather Watson: This has been a strong tournament for Heather Watson, but I can't ignore the way the draw has panned out for her. The first two opponents self-destructed in poor performances, but Yanina Wickmayer had so many chances to beat Watson before ultimately going down in three sets.

If you're making a report for the masses to read, you are of course going to focus on the battling qualities and the manner in which Watson came back to beat Wickmayer. On the other hand, I would point out the levels she needs to raise to beat someone as capable as Simona Halep who dropped just six games when these players last met in 2014.

The first two performances from Halep have been far from consistent, but she has been able to come through difficult moments while in others she has had full control of the matches. Confidence has been an issue for Halep but she might be turning a corner with the performances she has had in Indian Wells and Miami and I think she will have too much for Watson in this one.

I expect there will break point chances for both players who are not in possession of the biggest serves on Tour, but I expect Halep to eventually battle through with a 63, 64 win behind better consistency and more accuracy off the ground.

Ekaterina Makarova v Elina Svitolina: It has been a difficult few weeks for Ekaterina Makarova but her performances in Miami might have seen her turn a corner when it comes to her confidence. She will need to be at her best to beat Elina Svitolina who has won a title in Kuala Lumper this season and who battled past Caroline Wozniacki in the Third Round.

The edge definitely belongs to Svitolina when it comes to her current frame of mind compared with Makarova who hasn't had a lot of wins. However the latter looked strong in beating Petra Kvitova in the last Round and also has won all three previous matches against Svitolina.

All three of those wins came in 2015 including on the North American hard courts here in Miami and at the US Open and Makarova has yet to drop a set to Svitolina. The Russian has the lefty serve that can cause problems, especially when she is utilising that shot to the full and Makarova's previous experiences when facing Svitolina cannot be ignored easily.

I imagine this will be a close match and Svitolina might even take her first set from Makarova, but ultimately I think the latter will come through. It might be close throughout, but backing Makarova to move into the Quarter Final looks the call.

Timea Babos + 4.5 games v Angelique Kerber: The Australian Open Champion Angelique Kerber has just had a difficult time backing up that big success. That alone isn't a big surprise considering the surprise that Kerber produced to win a Grand Slam title and the added expectation on her shoulders is not something that is easy to understand for any player that is placed in that position.

She has played well in Miami so far, although perhaps was fortunate to come through the Third Round match against Kiki Bertens who had to pull out during the match. Now Kerber is going to be given a big test from Timea Babos who has had three solid wins this week and should be capable of giving Kerber plenty to think about.

It hasn't been the case in the past with all three wins produced by Kerber coming quite comfortably and this number of games wouldn't have done enough for Babos. However, I think the two players are in a different place mentally at this moment in time and Babos can take advantage by making this a lot more competitive.

I really do think there is every chance that Babos can win this one outright, but I am anticipating a close match so the games being given to her look too many to me. Kerber still looks like a player that is not quite comfortable with the new target on her back from the other players on the Tour and I will back her lower Ranked opponent to cover if not win outright.

MY PICKS: Kei Nishikori - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 William Hill (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Ekaterina Makarova @ 1.83 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Timea Babos + 4.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)

Miami Update: 10-4, + 10.14 Units (28 Units Staked, + 36.21% Yield)

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Miami Tennis Picks 2016 (March 26th)

The first few days of this Miami Open have been very strong for the picks with both that were completed on Friday coming in as winners.

Unfortunately we didn't get to see the Roger Federer v Juan Martin Del Potro match that I was really looking forward to as Federer had to withdraw with a stomach illness on Friday. That might have thrown Del Potro and contributed to his defeat to Horacio Zeballos which is arguably his most disappointing result since returning to the Tour last month.

On Saturday the WTA Premier Event Third Round begins and the ATP Masters Second Round is completed. There are some big matches to be played through the course of the day as well as some big names opening their campaigns in Miami in another loaded schedule.

Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v Federico Delbonis: This has been a difficult season so far for Grigor Dimitrov who is struggling to find the consistency to improve the results from 2015. He has looked fragile in matches with a sloppy service game or two in each set giving his opponent a chance to build confidence and find a way to earn results against him.

It is the defeats to the likes of Rajeev Ram, Victor Troicki and Alexander Zverev that would bother Dimitrov as he surely believes he should be beating those players at this stage of his career. It makes it hard to trust the Bulgarian, but I can't help but feel Federico Delbonis is a touch overrated in this one.

Delbonis did have a very good run in Indian Wells where he beat Andy Murray but he is just 4-18 on the hard courts over the previous two seasons before that run last week raised this season to 7-3. The lefty serve makes him an awkward customer for Dimitrov, but that isn't enough to think he can build on last week and have another strong week on the hard courts of North America.

I think it will be close for a while, but I am expecting Dimitrov to come through the middle of the match with a couple of breaks of serve covering two sets and leading to a 64, 63 win.

John Isner - 3.5 games v Tim Smyczek: Last week John Isner had many chances to cover in two separate matches that I had backed him to do so and I was let down twice. Once was when he was broken serving for the match and the other was because he missed break points in four consecutive games that would have put him in pole position to cover.

Even with those disappointments in mind, I do think Isner is capable of covering this number against Tim Smyczek in his first match in Miami. The big man has been returning fairly effectively in Indian Wells and he might have a little more time to hammer back some returns in this one.

Isner has shown he is more than capable of producing some top tennis on the slower courts which gives him more time on the ball and I think the scoreboard pressure from his serve will help too. Tim Smyczek did push Sam Querrey to the limit in a recent match, but Isner is a better returner than the latter and I expect him to get a little more joy from the Smyczek serve than his compatriot did.

It is a first meeting between these two American players, but I am looking for Isner to frustrate his opponent behind his big serve and find a couple of breaks through this match to cover.

Simona Halep - 4.5 games v Julia Goerges: The conditions in Miami should suit both Simona Halep and Julia Goerges in this Third Round contest and I think it could be quite a good one to watch. However I do think Halep is a level above Goerges these days and I expect that to eventually show up on the scoreboard in what may look like a fairly comfortable win.

I don't think it will be as comfortable when it is actually played with both players likely to have their chances to break serve. Halep's serve can be a little bit of a weakness sometimes when she is not hitting her spots as she likes while Goerges can produce some lights out serving when she is on.

If that is the case, this is going to be a very close match, but the consistency that the Romanian produces should give her some edge in the contest. I think Halep has played well enough the last couple of weeks to think the confidence is on the way to being fully restored and I think she will like the time she will get in this Third Round match from the conditions.

After a few breaks of serve, I expect Halep to come through 63, 64 in this one.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
John Isner - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Miami Update: 9-2, + 12.54 Units (22 Units Staked, + 57% Yield)

Friday, 25 March 2016

Miami Tennis Picks 2016 (March 25th)

The tournament in Miami has proven to be another good one for the picks in the early days, but there is still plenty of work to be done to make sure this is another tournament that gets the season moving back towards the positive.

The Second Round in the ATP Masters event begins on Friday and you know most eyes are going to be on Roger Federer taking on Juan Martin Del Potro.

We all know the Del Potro story as he continues his return from another long injury lay-off and he remains my favourite player on the Tour so I will always watch his matches with a keen interest. This would be a big match regardless, but the added factor is trying to figure out how Roger Federer is feeling coming off his first surgery of his career which has seen him miss the Tour since the Australian Open.

Federer is coming back earlier than expected and he has spent the last couple of years missing the Masters event in Miami so this looks a great match to look forward to.

Fernando Verdasco - 1.5 games v Jeremy Chardy: The head to head is in favour of Jeremy Chardy who has won both previous matches against Fernando Verdasco although they haven't played against one another since 2010. However the Frenchman hasn't been at his best in 2016 and he has lost three matches in a row which will have dented some of his confidence.

In saying that, Fernando Verdasco is not someone I plan on backing too often this season unless he can start bringing some consistency back into his performances. He is another player that hasn't really had a lot of success in 2016, but his win over Gilles Muller in the First Round was impressive and suggests the conditions might suit him in Miami.

The Spaniard did have four early exits in a row before reaching the Fourth Round last season and I do think the slower conditions here gives Verdasco more of a chance to play his natural game than Jeremy Chardy. The latter has a decent first serve which will help him, but Verdasco might feel he will get the better of the extended rallies if he can use his forehand to pepper the backhand.

I'd be surprised if this is anything but a close match, but it is one that I feel Verdasco might have more confidence to deal with the big moments. There are times when it feels tough to trust Verdasco but he can get the better of Chardy for the first time on the professional Tour with a 64, 67, 75 kind of win.

Roger Federer - 3.5 games v Juan Martin Del Potro: I will be putting aside some time on Friday evening to watch this Second Round match live as two players I love to watch meet in Miami. Juan Martin Del Potro has always been one of my favourite players on the Tour, while Roger Federer's style and panache makes it tough to really dislike him and not many play tennis in his way.

The only disappointment at this moment is the uncertainty that surrounds both players ahead of this match. Federer is coming off knee surgery and it will be interesting to see how he deals with his first significant injury and long lay-off from the Tour not of his own making.

On the other hand we have Del Potro still working his way back to being full time on the Tour, although I have been impressed with how he has dealt with the lower Ranked players he has played. Del Potro even challenged Tomas Berdych in Indian Wells before falling away in the second set and there is a real confidence he can get back to the top of his game in the coming months as long as the Argentinian can steer clear of injuries.

So why do I think Federer will be a little too good on the day? I am still not convinced Del Potro is fully comfortable with his backhand and that is going up against Federer's own improved shot from that wing. I also think Del Potro is trying to get back up to speed and that has resulted in a couple of poor service games in a set of tennis which will give Federer a chance to take control of this match.

Mentally it will be interesting to see how Federer deals with the return from an injury, but I think physically he will be ready to compete. The conditions don't really suit either player as much as you'd think, but Federer can work his way to a 75, 64 win and a place in the Third Round as well as improving his head to head against Del Potro.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas + 4.5 games v Richard Gasquet: It might be Richard Gasquet that leads the head to head, but all three previous matches have gone the distance against Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The Second Round match in Miami might be another close one especially with the conditions slower than other hard courts which should favour Ramos-Vinolas.

I am not sure it will be enough for the Spaniard to win the match outright, but it should make him feel a little more comfortable on the court. Ramos-Vinolas may prefer the clay courts, but he had a decent week in Indian Wells with a big win over Nick Kyrgios in the Second Round, and the slower conditions in Miami may make him feel he can have some joy from the extended rallies.

The last three appearances in Miami suggests that Richard Gasquet has also begun to appreciate the conditions at this tournament and he has reached the Semi Finals in 2013. However, he did miss last season and Gasquet might be caught cold by Ramos-Vinolas who has given him troubles in the past.

The key for Ramos-Vinolas is making sure he makes full use of the lefty serve and try and put some pressure on Gasquet by getting him to move around the court. His forehand does naturally go into the Gasquet backhand which remains a big weapon for the Frenchman, but I think Ramos-Vinolas might be able to steal at least one set which should give him a chance to cover with this number of games in his pocket.

MY PICKS: Fernando Verdasco - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas + 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Betway (2 Units)

Miami Update: 7-2, + 8.52 Units (18 Units Staked, + 47.33% Yield)

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Miami Tennis Picks 2016 (March 24th)

The day before the four day Easter break is always really busy and mine was no different this year.

That means the picks from the Miami Open on Thursday will be made below and I will back to my usual posts on Friday.

MY PICKS: Caroline Wozniacki - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)
Sloane Stephens - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Marcos Baghdatis - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Miami Update: 4-1, + 4.96 Units (10 Units Staked, + 49.60% Yield)

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

NBA Picks March 2016 (March 21-27)

The March picks from the NBA have been in good shape and I am looking for another big push with just days remaining of the regular season now.

This is an important time for teams who are battling for their Play Off spots with much likely to be decided as we enter April and then teams will look to sit players and get them ready for the post-season.

The first couple of days of this week had a few games scheduled, but nothing jumped off the page when it came to picks which means I have actually had a few days off from the picks. However the first day of the week that I am making picks has seen a number of the games leap of the page and hopefully get this week trending in a positive direction immediately.

Wednesday 23rd March
As I have said above, the first couple of days of the week didn't really have anything that appealed to me and even those that made the shortlist were a little hit and miss.

I would like to get the positives out of this week and finish with a winning record after going 0.500 last week.

Atlanta Hawks @ Washington Wizards Pick: On Monday the Washington Wizards secured a big win at the Atlanta Hawks, but their Play Off future is far less promising than their visitors. With twelve regular season games to play, Washington are still 1.5 games behind the Number 8 Seed in the Eastern Conference and know their fate is not entirely in their own hands.

This game is still no less important to the Atlanta Hawks as it is to Washington with the Hawks capable of finishing as high as the Number 3 Seed if they play well, or down at Number 6 if they struggle to find their form.

Form is marginally better for Washington at the moment, and the key for their improvement has been the better Defensive performances. John Wall has made it clear that the Offense can take care of itself, but Washington have to keep performing well Defensively if they are going to sneak into the Play Offs.

Atlanta do have a very good recent record in Washington where they are 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six here. This is likely to be as close as their game earlier in the week but I think Washington can make it two in a row against Atlanta and I will take the point for the home underdog.

Toronto Raptors @ Boston Celtics Pick: The Toronto Raptors are not going to be dragged into the battle for the Number 3 Seed that is developing behind them in the Eastern Conference. Instead they are looking up at the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Raptors try and steal the Number 1 Seed for the Play Offs with just 1.5 games separating the top two teams in the Conference.

It is also a very important game for the Boston Celtics who have won back to back games after a poor run of form saw them slip from the Number 3 Seed in the East. Now they are one of four teams separated by just 0.5 games between the Number 3 and the Number 6 Seed in what is a big game for both teams on Wednesday.

I am leaning towards the underdog Toronto Raptors who have been winning games against teams that are going to be playing in the post-season in recent games. The Raptors have a strong 9-5 record against the spread when set as the road underdog this season and they have a backcourt that can match up with Boston's who are still missing Jae Crowder.

Boston have been strong at home against teams with winning records as they have gone 10-6 against the spread in that spot. However, Toronto have covered in three straight games against them and they are also 3-1 against the spread in their last four in Boston. The Raptors have been playing very well and look to be highly motivated and I think they can make the points count in this one.

Orlando Magic @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The Detroit Pistons are trying their best to overcome the Chicago Bulls for the Number 8 Seed in the Eastern Conference, but they will need help. It also means they cannot afford to drop silly games like this one when they host the Orlando Magic who have lost four in a row, all against teams currently in the Play Off spots in the Eastern Conference.

Most of those losses have been very competitive so the Detroit Pistons have to be careful, while the trade made by these teams just before the trade deadline should keep both teams motivated.

Detroit have won three in a row and can't afford to overlook Orlando to their next game against the Charlotte Hornets. They have managed their games when hosting those teams with losing records this season as the Pistons have gone 10-3 against the spread in that spot, while Detroit are 16-6 against the spread as the home favourite this season.

That becomes 7-1 against the spread when favoured by 6.5 points up to 12.5 points at home and Detroit have gone 4-0 against the spread in the last four against Orlando. Each of those wins have come by double digits and I can see this powerful Offensive unit coming together to help Detroit cover the number.

I don't think Orlando will roll over and Brandon Jennings could have a big game returning to Detroit. However, I am expecting the Pistons to pull away in the second half and win by at least ten points.

New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls Pick: There is almost nothing separating the four teams fighting it out for the last two places in the Eastern Conference Play Offs. That makes every game important for those teams, but losing to teams with losing records can be fatal at this stage of the season.

The Chicago Bulls have a home and home series with the New York Knicks and will be expecting to win both to keep the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards at bay. The team have begun to get healthier at just the right time although it has been said that Chicago will keep their players on limited minutes to make sure they are ready for the Play Offs assuming they make it.

Chicago have gone 3-1 against the spread in their last four home games against the New York Knicks who are now looking ahead to the off-season. The Draft doesn't mean as much with the Knicks losing their First Round Pick to the Toronto Raptors, but New York are beginning to play out the string.

The Knicks have lost three of their last four games and have failed to surpass 94 points in any of their last five games. I do say that Chicago have been a poor home favourite to back, but they look to be in a good position with the players back to health in the rotation to continue their dominance of New York.

It is a big number, but if New York continue to be Offensively challenged I can only see the Chicago Bulls pulling away in the second half and I will look for them to cover this number.

Thursday 24th March
A very difficult Wednesday with the picks all having their chances, bar the Chicago game, and ultimately missing out with poor second half efforts. That happens, but I also have to say the Thursday options are not great and I will bypass any picks on this day.

Friday 25th March
There are plenty of games to be played on Friday as the regular season moves another day closer to the end and the start of the Play Offs fast approaches.

Charlotte Hornets @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The Detroit Pistons have just managed to break free from the Chicago Bulls at the bottom of the Eastern Conference Play Off picture. To remain there they have to beat one of the hottest teams in their Conference in the Charlotte Hornets who are chasing down the Number 3 Seed and a First Round home series.

There is every chance the Hornets can do that with a strong end to the season and in the form they have been displaying in the last few weeks.

One of the key differences between the teams is the way Charlotte have played Defensively compared with the Detroit Pistons. That can easily mean the Hornets are able to ramp up the pressure on the Pistons with their own Offensive work finding a groove and being able to produce a few more stops.

Charlotte are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games against the Pistons and have beaten them twice this season already. I will take the small points on offer for the road team to keep the momentum behind them against the Defensively challenged Detroit Pistons.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: The Milwaukee Bucks have some talent that will see them improve next season, but they will be disappointed that they are missing the Play Offs this time around. That has seen Jason Kidd change tact and use the remaining games as an opportunity to give different starting line ups a look.

It isn't the best way to get ready for the Atlanta Hawks who are chasing the Number 3 Seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks have won six of their last seven games and many of those games have resulted in some comfortable margins which makes them a big favourite to win this one.

Milwaukee have lost four of their last five games and three of those losses have come by at least nine points. They have played well in Atlanta where they are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games, while the Hawks were beaten by Milwaukee last month here.

However I think they can earn some revenge with motivation higher and Milwaukee off a big effort against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Kidd perhaps using his time to get next season on track, Atlanta might be able to pull away if they are shooting the three as well as they were last time out against Washington and I like them to cover.

Saturday 26th March
I will just have the picks up for the Saturday games with time an issue for the full breakdown of them.

MY PICKS: 23/03 Washington Wizards + 1 Point @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
23/03 Toronto Raptors + 2 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
23/03 Detroit Pistons - 7 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
23/03 Chicago Bulls - 8 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
25/03 Charlotte Hornets + 2 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
25/03 Atlanta Hawks - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
26/03 Chicago Bulls - 5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
26/03 Charlotte Hornets - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

March 21-27 Update: 3-5, - 2.27 Units

March 14-20 Final4-4, - 0.36 Units
March 7-13 Final6-1-1, + 4.46 Units
March 1-6 Final8-7, + 0.32 Units

March Update18-12-1, + 4.42 Units
February Final21-27, - 7.77 Units
January Final21-23-2, - 3.80 Units
December Final27-21-3, + 3.67 Units
November Final27-22-1, + 2.69 Units
October Final5-4, + 0.57 Units
Season 2016119-109-7, + 0.10 Units

Final Season 2015109-108-5, - 6.91 Units
Final Season 201458-72-1, - 16.86 Units
Final Season 2013105-93-3, + 10.49 Units

Final Season 201279-53-1, + 27.48 Units

Miami Tennis Picks 2016 (March 23rd)

The big news around tennis this week is once again the pay given to the players on the WTA and ATP Tour and it feels like this is a non-issue that keeps rearing its head every few months.

Ray Moore was the catalyst for the latest discussion thanks to some ill-advised comments made, comments that have cost him his job as tournament director in Indian Wells. Most correctly criticised Moore for his comments especially when you consider the position he was in as a tournament director of one of the big events below the Grand Slam level.

However the story developed when it seemed Novak Djokovic also believes he and his fellow professionals on the ATP Tour should be paid more than his counterparts on the WTA Tour. Since then the World Number 1 has sought to clarify what he was trying to say during an 'emotional time' but notably Djokovic has not actually backtracked from his initial response.

For me it is a boring story because I do agree that equal prize money is the right move, even if at this moment the ATP Tour is the stronger of the two. However I know the late 90's was more about women's tennis in terms of the entertainment value, while the ATP Tour does currently offer more prize money as we go down the level of tournaments being played where there aren't shared tournaments taking place.

It is little surprise that so many of the top WTA players have come out and shown their disappointment not only with Moore and his initial comments, but also of Novak Djokovic's response. I am also not at all surprised that Andy Murray has been critical of Djokovic's comments considering the strong female voices he has in his camp, but I imagine many of the ATP Tour probably agree with the best player on their Tour.

Tennis seemingly can't avoid the controversial issues opening up 2016, but this is a story that has gained legs despite it not really being one that deserves it. If Djokovic hadn't said what he had, I am sure the story would have ended with Moore's resignation as it should be, but I have a feeling that Djokovic's comments have just highlighted what so many on the ATP Tour might be feeling.

Hopefully the rest of the Miami Open tournament will be focused on events on the court rather than those off it.

The opening day of the tournament proved a good one for the picks with both on Tuesday coming in as winners on the day. It took Margarita Gasparyan and Danka Kovinic to dig in deep in the second set of their outright wins on Tuesday to get the week off to a positive start after a very good ten days at Indian Wells.

Hopefully Wednesday can keep the positive trend going as the ATP Masters First Round gets underway as well as the conclusion of the WTA Premier Event First Round matches with some of those matches being played on Tuesday.

Rajeev Ram - 1.5 games v Evgeny Donskoy: Neither one of these players has enjoyed too much success at this level of the ATP Tour, but Rajeev Ram has definitely produced more positive results than Evgeny Donskoy in 2016. There have been some decent runs at the Challenger level from Donskoy, but nothing that matches Ram reaching the Final at Delray Beach.

The layers are on the right track in believing there isn't much between these players and I can see a few big moments here and there making the entire difference between winning and losing. I won't be surprised if we do see this match going into a deciding set, but ultimately I believe Ram's better successes on the main Tour will help him battle through this First Round.

I am not sure the conditions in Miami will really suit Ram's game with the courts a little slower, but his first serve is still strong enough to set up the points for him. There isn't a lot about the Ram game that would really impress outside of that, but he can make enough returns to give Donskoy something to think about especially if the Russian is not in top form.

There have been some close losses suffered by Donskoy this season and I think he will have a full belief that he can win a match like this in the conditions in Miami. However the fact that he has lost those close matches might mean Ram has the edge when things are tight and I will back him to come through with a 63, 36, 64 win.

Vasek Pospisil - 2.5 games v Diego Sebastian Schwartzman: It has been a pretty miserable 2016 for Vasek Pospisil on the Singles Tour although that has yet to reflect in a considerable drop in the World Rankings. He has done a lot of losing in the opening weeks of the season although it has to be said that the majority of his losses have come in matches he was 'expected' to lose.

The Canadian has to bring a big serving day to the office if he is going to come through this First Round match against Diego Sebastian Schwartzman. The Argentinian had an early exit at Indian Wells, but he did play well in a Challenger tournament in Irving where Schwartzman beat someone as capable as Gilles Muller.

The conditions in Miami should suit Schwartzman as the slower hard court will give him a chance to play the match like a clay court. Obviously Miami is faster than the clay courts Schwartzman will usually play on, but this is a tournament where the ball won't fly through the court and the ability that Schwartzman has to defend should help him make this very competitive.

However I do think Pospisil's first serve is going to be a key for him as well as an ability to get to the net to prevent Schwartzman from simply chipping the ball back into play when under pressure. The way Pospisil has been playing makes it hard to believe he will win this in straight sets, but I do think he can get the better of Schwartzman who was beaten handily by Robin Haase in Indian Wells and I think the Canadian wins this one 63, 67, 64.

Christine McHale - 2.5 games v Misaki Doi: We might see Christine McHale lower down in the World Rankings than Misaki Doi, and the latter might have won the tournament in San Antonio last week, but I still think the American can come through this First Round match.

McHale will have earned some confidence from her run at Indian Wells where she beat the likes of Caroline Garcia and Garbine Muguruza before coming up short against Sam Stosur. The two wins were very impressive and she will be well rested while Doi has to hope she has had enough time to prepare for another tournament off a title win.

It wasn't a surprise that Doi decided to make the trip to San Antonio having been beaten in the First Round at Indian Wells. It wasn't the deepest draw in Texas for Doi to deal with although she did have a couple of strong wins and that makes her dangerous.

However she has lost all four previous matches against McHale including a fairly straight-forward loss in Auckland earlier this season. The power of McHale has been a factor with her serve being difficult for Doi to handle, but the slower Miami courts might make sure that this is a closer match than the last one.

Even in saying that, I do think McHale will have the majority of the break points in this one and I can see her taking her chances to cover this number and book her place in the Second Round of another Premier Event.

MY PICKS: Rajeev Ram - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Vasek Pospisil - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Christine McHale - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Miami Update: 2-0, + 3.48 Units (4 Units Staked, + 87% Yield)

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Miami Tennis Picks 2016 (March 22nd)

The first of the two big events in North America was completed on Sunday with Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic taking home the titles in Indian Wells. There were only a couple of days for the top players to recover before the Miami Open begins although the top Seeds won't be in action until later in the week having received a bye in the First Round.

The Indian Wells picks worked out well to get this season moving back in a positive direction, but it is all about building on that in the next week and a bit although I won't have full picks from this tournament as I will be jetting off to Las Vegas for the final four days of the event.

The WTA Premier Event will begin first as it did at Indian Wells, although the ATP Masters event will begin on Wednesday rather than Thursday as it did at the last tournament.

Margarita Gasparyan - 2.5 games v Annika Beck: There is only one place between these players in the World Rankings, but I think the upside in the Margarita Gasparyan game compared with Annika Beck will see the former surpass the latter shortly. At this point of their career there really isn't a lot between the players, but I think the Gasparyan power will be the difference maker in this First Round match in Miami.

There have been some similarities with the results both Gasparyan and Beck have achieved so far this season- both had a solid run at the Australian Open, but have struggled to really put the wins together since then. However, Gasparyan can at least point to a few successes in the early Rounds of events before bumping into one of the top Seeds and finding that a bridge too difficult to cross.

I can see Annika Beck having some success against her in this First Round match with an ability to get plenty of balls back in play. That will extract errors from an inconsistent Gasparyan but I also think the young Russian player will have quite a bit of joy attacking the Beck serve and that should see her come through this tough match.

It should be close at times and I can see a few games going to deuce and those big moments will determine which player goes through. I just feel Gasparyan will have the edge in terms of ability to hit through the court a little more and I like her to come through 63, 46, 64.

Danka Kovinic + 3.5 games v Denisa Allertova: When the First Round draw was made, I thought the First Round match between Denisa Allertova and Danka Kovinic would be close to a pick 'em contest. However the layers have leaned quite convincingly towards Allertova and I am not sure I am of the same opinion.

In my opinion, Danka Kovinic is the more likely winner of the two players so having a chance to get a significant number of games on her side is hard to ignore.

There is no doubt that we will see a number of breaks of serve from both players who have the ability to really get after the return, but perhaps don't have the biggest serves on Tour. It is no surprise that two players between Number 50 and Number 55 in the World Rankings have had some inconsistent results this season, although you would have to lean towards Allertova in getting the better wins under her belt.

However I do think Kovinic showed in Indian Wells that she is capable of plenty too and I won't at all be surprised if we need three sets to separate these players. I have a real belief that Kovinic can win this match outright, but taking the games looks to be the better way in backing her in the hope that the match is as close as I think it will be.

MY PICKS: Margarita Gasparyan - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Danka Kovinic + 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Indian Wells Final: 27-17, + 15.74 Units (88 Units Staked, + 17.89% Yield)

Season 2016- 30.20 Units (548 Units Staked, - 5.51% Yield)
Season 2015- 21.81 Units (1812 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
Season 2014+ 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)
Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

Friday, 18 March 2016

Indian Wells Tennis Picks 2016 (March 18th)

There was only the one pick made on Thursday and Karolina Pliskova was a fairly comfortable winner against Daria Kasatkina to move into the Semi Final of the WTA Premier Event.

On Friday the remaining two ATP Masters Quarter Finals are played with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both in action after that brilliant picture of them high-fiving just off court on Wednesday went viral. If both win, they will be meeting in the Semi Final, but there is little doubt that Rafael Nadal has the bigger test on the day on paper at least.

Friday also sees both WTA Premier Event Semi Finals played later in the evening as the Indian Wells tournament winds down and the next big event in Miami perhaps starts to take over.

The big news about the Miami Open was the announced return of Roger Federer who wasn't expected back until next month at the Monte Carlo Masters. It will be interesting to see how the knee is feeling following surgery after the Australian Open although we probably won't see Federer until next weekend when the Second Round of the Masters begins in Miami.

Novak Djokovic - 4.5 games v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: This looks to be a fascinating Quarter Final if Novak Djokovic is not up to full strength having admitted he has had a few health issues over the last couple of weeks. That has shown up in some less than dominant performances this week, but Djokovic was a very good winner over Feliciano Lopez in the Fourth Round and I think that positive will set him up to end Indian Wells in a positive way.

He will be challenged by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who should enjoy the conditions as he can power through the court, but the Frenchman has to be at his very best to beat someone of the calibre of Djokovic. Tsonga showed in the Canadian Masters of 2014 that he is still able to dig deep and produce top performances, but I also believe that the Frenchman might be on the downward slope of his career.

That was also a rare success against Djokovic who has won 10 of the last 11 matches between the pair. The majority of those have been dominated by the World Number 1 and I think it might be another day where Djokovic is able to weather the Tsonga storm and then pull away for a comfortable looking win.

It will have to be a better serving day than Djokovic has produced for the most part this week and he will also have to be at the top of his game when it comes to the return. Tsonga has yet to be broken this week and that will give him confidence, but he is hasn't played a returner of the calibre of Djokovic and I expecting the World Number 1 to win this one 75, 63.

Serena Williams - 5.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: The World Number 1 Serena Williams has made comfortable progress through the draw into this Semi Final and I am not surprised she is a big favourite to beat Agnieszka Radwanska. The American has won all 9 previous matches between the two players and the majority of those have been very one-sided as the Williams power has proved too much for Radwanska to handle.

It has been a good 2016 season for Radwanska, and she has played well at Indian Wells with just a single set dropped so far. However the mental hurdle of facing Williams has proved too much for Radwanska who took a heavy loss in the Australian Open Semi Final to the World Number 1.

Of course she might look at the closer second set as the blueprint to take forward, but Radwanska is always going to be under pressure dealing with the Williams serve. Her own serve doesn't really offer as many cheap points and having to work hard to negate the Williams power has proved a little too much for her through her career.

I wouldn't be surprised if one of the sets played in this Semi Final is very competitive, but I do think Williams is going to find at least a couple breaks of serve in another set which should set her up for the cover. This Semi Final has all the makings of a 64, 62 kind of win for Serena Williams and I will back her to cover the games in this Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 5.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Indian Wells Update: 27-15, + 19.74 Units (84 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Indian Wells Tennis Picks 2016 (March 17th)

After the first two picks from Wednesday Indian Wells didn't come through, it could have been a really poor day in the office for the picks to affect the weekly totals.

Thankfully the other three picks played later in the evening all managed to come through to at least keep the positive momentum behind this tournament with a few days left to go.

On Thursday there are four Quarter Finals scheduled to be played, but I am not exactly enthusiastic, from a picks perspective, for three of those. I think they will be very competitive on the court, especially the two Masters Quarter Finals that are played today, but the one pick comes from the WTA Premier Event.

Karolina Pliskova - 1.5 games v Daria Kasatkina: The layers are expecting a very close match between Karolina Pliskova and Daria Kasatkina and I don't think they are far wrong. However I do think the favourite will progress to the Semi Final and should be able to just about get over this number even though I am expecting a three set Quarter Final here.

When it comes down the pure talent the two players possess, I do lean towards Daria Kasatkina but I think she is still learning her craft. The other edge that Karolina Pliskova has at this moment is the superior serve which can prove to be a huge advantage on the WTA Tour when you are able to earn a few more cheaper points and reduce the pressure that is built up during a match.

There is no doubting that Kasatkina is going to improve her World Ranking in the coming months if she can continue to show the form she has over the last month. She has had some very strong wins and her victory over Monica Puig in a third set tie-breaker shows she is able to handle the pressure, while Kasatkina has made no secret of her desire to compete with the very best players on the Tour.

I do think she will give Pliskova a few problems in this one, but ultimately I think the Czech player might have a few more 'easier' service games which gives her the edge. I won't be surprised if we need three sets to separate these players in this Quarter Final but I believe Karolina Pliskova is going to win this one 63, 36, 64 to move into the Semi Final.

MY PICKS: Karolina Pliskova - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Indian Wells Update: 26-15, + 17.92 Units (82 Units Staked, + 21.85% Yield)

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Indian Wells Tennis Picks 2016 (March 16th)

It was a bit of a frustrating day for the tennis picks on Tuesday with a couple of picks coming very close to covering the number but ultimately falling short, while another ended in a retirement from a strong position.

All of that meant it was a 0.500 day with one void although the week totals remain intact which is important. I do want to build on the success of the tournament to this point, but it is better than seeing those early successes removed with the week winding down.

On Wednesday the ATP Masters event sees all eight Fourth Round matches played through the day at Indian Wells while the first two WTA Premier Event Quarter Finals are also scheduled to played.

It means another busy day with some big time matches set to be played and I am looking forward to another good day of tennis for the fans to enjoy both in Indian Wells and for those watching on TV.

Richard Gasquet - 1.5 games v Marin Cilic: The Fourth Round of any Masters event is going to bring together some very good matches and I think this is one of the best we will see at Indian Wells. Both Richard Gasquet and Marin Cilic have been in and around the top ten in the World Rankings in recent years and the winner will feel the points earned this week can set them on their way to establish themselves in those positions.

There isn't a lot to separate these players with both Gasquet and Cilic having had early successes at the tournaments in 2016, while also playing well here to move into this Round.

I also think both Gasquet and Cilic will feel they have a solid enough first serve to set up the points in this one and the key on that shot will be which of the two can get most out of the second serves they see. The backhand battle should also be fascinating to watch as that is the stronger shot that both players possess and you can understand why the layers are finding it tough to separate these two.

However I do think Gasquet is rightly favoured having won both previous matches against Cilic including last season at the Cincinnati Masters. He looks to be slightly more solid at this point of their careers and that can be the difference as Cilic perhaps is offering a little too much out of his own serve than he should be.

The Frenchman has suffered just the single loss in 2016 so far and I think Gasquet might be able to battle through for a 63, 36, 64 win.

Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 games v David Goffin: This is another really good looking match that has been scheduled for early in the day in Indian Wells and I expect to see some stunning tennis produced by both Stan Wawrinka and David Goffin.

The last match these two played at Wimbledon proved to be an incredibly tight affair, but I do think the conditions in Indian Wells are more favourable to Wawrinka. Here the timing is a little better for him than on the lower bouncing grass courts and I think that will help him make things a little more straight-forward than the last match with Goffin was.

I have a lot of respect for Goffin who is getting the most out of his talent, although on occasion he does find the very best players a step too far. The Belgian Number 1 is usually competitive, but there have been times when he is unable to protect the serve as he likes and the top players are some of the best front runners on the Tour.

Goffin will need to serve well, but I also think he is effective enough to get something out of the Wawrinka serve which can be erratic at times. However Wawrinka is tough to stop when he has a couple of wins behind him and I think the Swiss player comes through with a 76, 63 win in this match.

Gael Monfils - 4.5 games v Federico Delbonis: It was arguably the biggest win of his career, and definitely in the top two, for Federico Delbonis as he battled past Andy Murray in the Third Round. He has had a day of rest to recover both physically and emotionally, but it is always tough for the lower Ranked players to build upon a top ten win, especially when they are facing someone as talented as Gael Monfils in their next match.

For Monfils it has been serene progress through the draw and this is a big chance to pick up some Ranking points to start moving back towards the top ten of the World Rankings himself. He can be tough to back to cover big numbers like this one, but Monfils has had some impressive wins in 2016 and the dismissal of Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the last Round can't be underestimated.

That match is a benefit for Monfils as he would have seen the lefty serve that Delbonis is going to bring onto the court. It is important for the Frenchman to not give his opponent any encouragement as he tries to back up a huge win and I do think the odds against quote for him to cover this number is tempting enough.

Monfils has the athleticism to give Delbonis fits if he is slightly off his game compared with Monday and I think he will find a way to battle through for a 63, 64 win.

Rafael Nadal - 3.5 games v Alexander Zverev: Rafael Nadal has to be pleased with the way he battled through the second set of his win over Fernando Verdasco on Tuesday. That was the kind of set he might have dropped earlier in the season, but it is clear that Nadal is not quite up to the top of his game.

That makes the challenge of Alexander Zverev a difficult one for him, but I do think Nadal is able to beat the youngster when the meet in the Fourth Round. There is a lot to like about the Zverev game, but his inexperience can see him offer up a few chances to break serve and that could be critical in this one.

It has been a very strong week for Zverev who has had impressive wins over Grigor Dimitrov and Gilles Simon in the last two Rounds to get into this one. When he is serving well, Zverev is able to get himself into a very strong position in the rallies, but a first meeting with Rafael Nadal is all about controlling the nerves as well as producing the tennis required to beat the former World Number 1.

I have little doubt that Zverev will have some chances to break the Nadal serve because the Spaniard is not really protecting that shot as he was a few years ago. However I think ultimately Nadal is too strong on the day and Zverev has crumbled a couple of times in matches when things have begun to go against him. I don't think that happens here although I do think Nadal is a little too good at this point and will record a 64, 64 win.

Agnieszka Radwanska - 2.5 games v Petra Kvitova: In normal circumstances, I would favour someone like Petra Kvitova to eventually overpower someone like Agnieszka Radwanska. However this Kvitova looks like a player short of confidence and she is going to be tested to the maximum by Radwanska who will make sure she gets as many balls back in play as possible.

It almost worked perfectly for Nicole Gibbs in the Fourth Round as Kvitova is making too many errors at random times and you can accept her hitting her a few winners when that is happening. Radwanska is a far superior player to someone like Gibbs although she will need to serve effectively to ensure she is not allowing Kvitova to build her rhythm through the match.

The Kvitova serve still earns some cheap points from opponents, but it is not at the top of its performance and I do think Radwanska is going to extract plenty of errors from her game. It is Kvitova who has won 6 of their previous 9 matches, but the last 6 of those have been split and it is Radwanska who has won 2 of the last 3 including in the WTA Championship Final at the end of last season.

With confidence as short as it looks like it is on the court for Kvitova, I do think Radwanska is rightly favoured and I think she will wear down her opponent and extract mistakes in a 64, 64 win.

MY PICKS: Richard Gasquet - 1.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Stan Wawrinka - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Agnieszka Radwanska - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Indian Wells Update: 23-13, + 16.12 Units (72 Units Staked, + 22.39% Yield)