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Indian Wells Masters Day 3 Tennis Picks (March 8th)

The first couple of days at the Indian Wells Masters has been tough work for the Tennis Picks and I am partly to blame for overthinking one ...

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Indian Wells Masters Day 9 Tennis Picks 2019 (March 14th)

Wednesday proved to be a much better day for the Tennis Picks which had been dented by a poor Tuesday and two winners from two selections at odds against will always be welcomed.

We are now down to the final four days at Indian Wells before we have a slight break between this tournament ending and the Miami Masters beginning next week.

On Day 9 at Indian Wells we have four Quarter Final matches to play with two coming from the ATP Masters event and the other two coming from the WTA Premier Event which has already produced one Semi Final. At this stage of the tournament there is more information as to what kind of level players are performing at in this specific event as well as their overall numbers and it is the time to bring in additional factors to the selections.

Either way I am looking to produce another couple of winners to keep this tournament rolling back towards a strong return for the event and adding to what has been a very good start to 2019 as we almost complete a third month of the season.

Dominic Thiem v Gael Monfils: Two players who have been getting stronger and stronger through their matches at Indian Wells are meeting in the Quarter Final of what has become a very open top half of the draw. Novak Djokovic's defeat means there is a real chance for one of the four remaining players in the top half to reach the Indian Wells Final and put some very strong Ranking points on the board.

I have to feel that both Dominic Thiem and Gael Monfils are feeling very good about their level heading into this Quarter Final. They have looked better and better in each passing match and that has seen them produce some stellar numbers at the tournament which have to be respected.

They have dropped one set between them so far through three matches won and the service numbers have sparked their success. Dominic Thiem has held 93% of his service games in the tournament, while Gael Monfils is up at 86% and those numbers have allowed them to get into their return games with confidence as they can take one or two chances knowing their own serves are not offering up a lot of opportunities for opponents to break.

Both players have faced just ten break points across three matches, but it is Monfils who has been producing the stronger return numbers which has contributed to him being the favourite here. The Frenchman has broken in 50% of return games here, while Thiem has broken in 35% of return games and that is where this match is going to be won and lost as far as I am concerned.

However, Thiem's numbers are strong enough to think the underdog can show some bite in this Quarter Final. I also think the 4-0 head to head in favour of the Austrian can play a part here even if Thiem and Monfils have not played each other in the last twelve months as those head to heads showed that Thiem seems to match up very well with this opponent.

These two players met twice on the hard courts between August 2016 and March 2017 and it was Thiem who won both matches. In those he had the stronger returning numbers by some margin and that includes a relatively straight-forward win over him here in Indian Wells two years ago.

I have to credit for Monfils for opening 2019 in stronger fashion than Thiem who had a surprisingly disappointing South American Golden Swing on the clay, but the match up intrigues me. While the Frenchman is playing as close to his best tennis as you could imagine, I think Thiem will have built some confidence through his three wins here and he can just edge out the serving battle on a surface and conditions that should be most to the Austrian's liking.

Belinda Bencic - 1.5 games v Karolina Pliskova: In the last couple of years we have had some new names winning Grand Slam titles on the WTA side of things including fresh, young faces kicking on overall on the Tour. The main name that stands out is Naomi Osaka, but Belinda Bencic may feel that only injuries have held her back from moving to the top of the women's game herself.

Back injuries and other physical ailments have prevented Bencic from building on entering the top 10 of the World Ranking as an 18 year old, but 2019 has begun in a manner much more to what is expected of the now 22 year old 'Swiss Miss'.

While the World Ranking says Bencic is not a top 20 player, her performances over the last month are propelling her up the standings at a rate of knots. Continue in this vain and she is going to crack her career best World Number 7 Ranking before too long and Bencic has been winning matches against some of the best players on the Tour.

Bencic won the title in Dubai and showed her resilience in beating four consecutive top 10 Ranked opponents to earn the title. Any drop off in Indian Wells has not been witnessed as Bencic cruised through the first couple of matches here and then crushed World Number 1 Naomi Osaka in the Fourth Round to reach the Quarter Final.

In the last month Bencic has beaten the World Numbers 1, 2, 4, 6 and 9 and on Thursday she takes on World Number 5 Karolina Pliskova who is enjoying a bounce back year on the hard courts. The Czech player has a title from the first week of the 2019 Tour and has reached the Semi Final at the Australian Open and her play has been steady so far this week to come through the draw.

The first serve has proven to be a huge weapon for Pliskova as expected, but she is also returning a little above her numbers for the 2019 in general. However it is the second serve that is likely to be attacked by Bencic who is not moving behind the baseline, but standing firm and competing with some of the biggest hitters on the WTA Tour.

Like Pliskova, Bencic is relying on strong numbers on the first serve to protect what has been a vulnerable second serve. She is returning even better than Pliskova though and I do think Bencic's ability to make enough balls back in play and counter attack with some strong groundstrokes is going to give her the slight edge in this first meeting between these two players.

The Swiss superstar is 11-0 since the beginning of February and her numbers have been strong. While she may need three sets to edge out Pliskova, Bencic can do enough to win this match.

I won't ask her to cover the small number because it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the set Pliskova wins is enough to get within the number with Bencic winning two tight sets. Belinda Bencic has beaten five of the current top 10 in the last month, but she would have only covered the 1.5 handicap set for this match on two occasions and so I will just look for the talented player to find a way to win this match however she can do it.

MY PICKS: Dominic Thiem @ 2.25 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Belinda Bencic @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Indian Wells Update: 23-19, + 5.60 Units (84 Units Staked, + 6.67% Yield)

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