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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Indian Wells Tennis Picks 2017 (March 9th)

We are only weeks away from Maria Sharapova being allowed to return to the Tour, but I have complained for a while that it feels like the tennis world is welcoming back someone who failed a drugs test with far more gusto than they should be.

Some 'legends' of the sport have been fully behind Sharapova, which is absolutely baffling to me, but this week in Indian Wells we have begun to see a couple of the big names that are currently playing on the Tour seem less enthusiastic about the Sharapova return.

Angelique Kerber, who should be the World Number 1 by the end of the month, has admitted Stuttgart have produced a 'strange situation' by offering Sharapova a Wild Card and moving her First Round match to a Wednesday to allow her to make her return there. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made it clear that he doesn't believe Roland Garros should be giving Sharapova a Wild Card into the French Open either and I think it is about time that players show their distaste to what has otherwise been built up as a 'Return of the Queen' kind of feel for the Sharapova return.

Just in case it has been missed, Sharapova FAILED a drugs test and shouldn't be placed on a pedestal for that especially in light of all the shifting of blame to anyone but herself.

On Thursday the Indian Wells tournament sees the Men's Masters event get underway and now both tournaments being played there are into the main draws. Tomorrow will see the top WTA players enter the tournament, while Saturday will see the top Seeded ATP players begin their events.

Robin Haase - 2.5 games v Paolo Lorenzi: It is difficult to trust Robin Haase in any match as a favourite because of the erratic displays he can produce, but I think he is being asked to cover one or two fewer games than I thought he might do in this First Round match. The Dutchman has some form on the hard courts to fall back upon and he faces Paolo Lorenzi who has been struggling for wins since the Australian Open.

This is also not a tournament that Lorenzi tends to play too often and I am not sure he will be enjoying the conditions on the hard courts here. The desert air can make the ball fly in Indian Wells and that can be tough for Lorenzi to control with his game based around the clay courts and being able to have the patience to set points up.

Lorenzi has a poor record in the main draw here and has not played at Indian Wells since 2014. It should be noted that he has reached the Second Round in his last two appearances here, although Haase has also reached the Second Round in three consecutive seasons from 2014.

I do think Haase has the superior serve and he should have the heavier groundstrokes which are able to penetrate the Lorenzi defences. A good serving day should give Haase enough of an edge in this one to get past Lorenzi with a 7-6, 6-4 win and a place in the Second Round against an opponent who has lost four of his last five matches.

Ryan Harrison - 3.5 games v Damir Dzumhur: An 11 match winning run for Ryan Harrison came to an end in the Qualifiers for Acapulco last week, but this run has brought him up to Number 45 in the World Rankings after winning the ATP title in Memphis. That means he won't have to Qualify for the upcoming Masters events nor the Grand Slams and the next two tournaments are huge for the American.

Those are played in Indian Wells and Miami on the hard courts before the clay court season comes into view and Harrison only has to defend Second Round points here. It could all mean Harrison is perhaps moving inside the top 30 of the World Rankings in the coming weeks which can help him when it comes to the hard court swing later in the season.

I do think Harrison will get the better of Damir Dzumhur in the First Round at Indian Wells and that will frank his win over this opponent in the Memphis Quarter Final. Dzumhur has played well over the last month and he is a competitive player that does seem to be able to take sets off of opponents.

That is despite having a serve that is not the biggest on the Tour and being forced to work for every point. I think that is a difference maker in this one as Harrison should be able to protect his serve a little better than Dzumhur and that can lead to a successful win in this First Round encounter.

Their match in Memphis ended 6-3, 6-4 to Harrison and I am looking for this one to go a similar way as I back the American to cover the games.

Andrea Petkovic - 3.5 games v Vania King: She is now down at Number 79 in the World Rankings and I am not sure Andrea Petkovic will ever get back to her position inside the top 20 as injuries have hurt her. She has lost a lot of matches that she may not have done a couple of years ago, but I still expect Petkovic to come through this match against Vania King.

The last couple of matches for King have ended in straight sets losses and she just hasn't played a lot of tennis since the Australian Open. At least Petkovic can show she has won a few matches in St Petersburg, albeit with a couple of those coming in the Qualifiers, although her performances within a match have been up and down.

The German can also look back at the fact she has won all three previous matches against King, and I think she has shown a little more form in recent weeks than the American.

I fully expect both players to have a number of breaks of serve, but ultimately I do think Petkovic will have a little too much for King. I will be looking for Petkovic to come through with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win as she battles past her opponent and just wears down King.

MY PICKS: Robin Haase - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Ryan Harrison - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andrea Petkovic - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Coral (2 Units)

Indian Wells Update: 1-0, + 1.82 Units (2 Units Staked, + 91% Yield)

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