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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Indian Wells Tennis Picks 2017 (March 15th)

The tournament continues to produce frustrating results with another day in which one player has won more points, but somehow lost the match, while another was in a strong position before their opponent retired.

Put together it means what could have been a winning day becomes one with a loss and I have to say I am wondering whether someone has cursed me with the luck that has swung the other way so often.

Even the Novak Djokovic cover should never have occurred and given me the win with Juan Martin Del Potro. Instead my player loses serve when about to win a set with a double break, and the other player remains more focused to come through with the double break which allows them to cover.

It's a little irritating to say the least, but some late wins with Caroline Wozniacki and Kristina Mladenovic at least prevented it being a totally crap day.

Stan Wawrinka - 4.5 games v Yoshihito Nishioka: It has been a difficult few days with one of the players who has somehow recovered to cost me a pick being Yoshihito Nishioka. This was a player who was under the cosh against Tomas Berdych two days ago as he trailed 6-1, 5-1, but somehow the Czech former top 10 player collapsed both mentally and physically in the defeat.

It is going to take something similar from Stan Wawrinka to prevent him moving through to the Quarter Final, but he has looked good during the first couple of matches in Indian Wells. Wawrinka came into the tournament with some questions to answer, but his two wins have both been relatively comfortable ones and he will bring the firepower into this match.

The importance for Wawrinka is to not get to mentally concerned by Nishioka's ability to make balls as the latter is a pretty good mover around the court. That also increases the importance into serving well on the day, but he has been doing that so far this week and that should mean Wawrinka is able to dictate the rallies and force Nishioka to run around the court.

The Nishioka serve is not a big weapon so you have to think Wawrinka will have the majority of chances to break serve and that can see him come through this match. The cover is a big one, but he can win this match 6-3, 6-4 and just stay focused more than Berdych who let Nishioka off a big hook last time out.

Dominic Thiem v Gael Monfils: I backed Gael Monfils to beat John Isner a couple of days ago and he came through very easily against the big serving American in straight sets. This is going to be a bigger test for the Frenchman and he has been given the slight edge by the oddsmakers to come through against Dominic Thiem with little between them in the World Rankings.

Personally I think Thiem might have enough to beat Monfils who played really well against Isner, but who has been suffering with an illness. He won't be able to expect the rallies to be as short as they were against Isner and that can really highlight any issues Monfils is feeling on the court.

Thiem's scheduling has been criticised by fans and you do wonder why he keeps switching continents and surfaces as much as he does. He has looked good so far in his two wins in Indian Wells though and the court speed might actually suit him, while Thiem also holds the mental edge having overcome Monfils twice before.

I have little doubt this will be a close match and it will turn on a couple of points here and there, but I think Thiem may just get the better of Monfils to move into the Quarter Final. Thiem has been producing many more wins than Monfils over the last month and, if the latter is less than 100%, I do think the Austrian can make that count with a solid win here.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Svetlana Kuznetsova: There might be a shift between these two Russian players as to who feels better on the court after Svetlana Kuznetsova won five of the opening six matches against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. However it is Pavlyuchenkova who has won both matches against Kuznetsova in 2017 and she will feel she has the power to frank those wins with another at Indian Wells.

The only real issue is her fitness and how much the win over Dominika Cibulkova took out of Pavlyuchenkova on Tuesday. She played after a fairly straight forward win for Kuznetsova and during the heat of the day, while also being forced into a third set before beating the Slovakian.

That could be a telling factor in this Quarter Final, but I think Pavlyuchenkova has been producing enough big serves to earn the cheap points to keep her moving forward in this one. Pavlyuchenkova has been returning the ball very effectively too and I think she can once again punish the second serves she sees from Kuznetsova.

Both players have been broken plenty of times so far in the tournament which can't be a surprise on the slower hard courts, but both have been able to back up with plenty of breaks of their own. I do think Pavlyuchenkova's wins over Kuznetsova over the last couple of months will give her a lot of confidence at the key moments in this one and I will be looking for her to have the edge and earn a win to move into the Semi Final.

Karolina Pliskova - 2.5 games v Garbine Muguruza: These two players might be considered amongst the leading group behind Serena Williams for the big titles and the winner will be the favourite to go on and win the title in Indian Wells. However it is Karolina Pliskova who has shown considerably more consistency than Garbine Muguruza over the last few months and she has also had the better of this match up.

As well as Muguruza has done to come through to the Quarter Final, she was perhaps a little fortunate to get the better of the in-form Elina Svitolina on Tuesday. That win has to give her some confidence, but the big hitting of Pliskova has regularly proved to be tough for the Spaniard to deal with.

That has helped Pliskova win five in a row in the head to head with Muguruza and she has only dropped two sets. Having an opponent withdraw early in their match on Tuesday should mean Pliskova is well rested and ready to compete, while Muguruza had an emotional three set win which will have taken something away from her game.

They have met twice in Premier Events in the United States and Pliskova has won both with relative comfort. If she is serving as well as she can, Pliskova should keep the pressure on Muguruza through this match and I would expect her to have a little too much in a 7-5, 6-3 kind of win.

MY PICKS: Stan Wawrinka - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)

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