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WTA Indian Wells Tennis Picks, Predictions: Best Bets for Halep vs. Swiatek and Badosa vs. Sakkari (March 18)

WTA Indian Wells Tennis Picks, Predictions: Best Bets for Halep vs. Swiatek and Badosa vs. Sakkari (March 18) article feature image
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PAUL CROCK/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Spain’s Paula Badosa.

We are finally into the semifinals of Indian Wells! It’s been an incredible tournament so far and we have two fascinating semifinal matchups on deck.

While both matches will be interesting to watch, what’s more important is that they both have value for us to capitalize on.

Here are two plays to think about from Friday’s semifinal action in the desert.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on watching tennis matches.  

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Simona Halep (+145) vs Iga Swiatek (-179)

9 p.m. ET

Simona Halep is really enjoying the slow conditions in Indian Wells. Halep beat Petra Martic 6-1, 6-1 to reach the semifinals.

In the match with Martic, Halep won 82% of her first serves and wasn’t broken all match. On return, Halep won a ridiculous 69% of her return points and broke Martic five times in seven service games. It was truly a complete performance.

Halep has won seven sets in a row and beaten tough opponents that include Coco Gauff and Sorana Cirstea. She is one of the best movers in women’s tennis and the slow conditions help her get to even more of her opponents’ shots back into play. Halep’s backhand has been especially effective to control the baseline and put her opponents in defensive positions.

Iga Swiatek is another player who is loving playing in the Indian Wells conditions. In her latest victory, Swiatek dominated Madison Keys 6-1, 6-0 to make the semifinals.

Against Keys, Swiatek won 84% of her first-serve points and faced only one break point all match, which she saved. And while Keys’ serve is usually one of the strengths of her game, Swiatek neutralized this aspect of the American’s game. Keys only won 41% of her first-serve points and 21% of her second serves, getting broken five times.

Swiatek has a huge forehand and can control the baseline effectively. The Pole has won seven out of the eleven sets she’s played 6-2 or better.  Overall, Swiatek is on a nine match winning streak, as she also won Doha in her most recent tournament before Indian Wells. She will be confident coming into this match.

Both players are comfortable in the clay-like conditions (both are Roland Garros champions) and that won’t be a factor in this match.  Swiatek will look to control the baseline with her forehand, while Halep will look to dominate with her backhand.

It’s hard to separate these two players, as they’ve both been so impressive this week and are striking the ball so well from the baseline. I can’t see either player running away with this match.

The over is the best play.

Pick: Over 21.5 games (-115 via PointsBet)

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Paula Badosa (-130) vs Maria Sakkari (+105)

10:15 p.m. ET

Paula Badosa is, once again hitting her stride in Indian Wells. The defending champion took down Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals.

In the win over Kudermetova, Badosa played a complete match. She won 73% of her service points and saved the one break point she faced. On return, she won 71% Kudermetova’s second-serve points.

Badosa has still not dropped a set this tournament. She’s been so solid from the baseline, hitting with consistent depth and showing great precision when she had an opening. Badosa hits her spots on serve and perhaps most importantly, doesn’t have any huge weaknesses.

Maria Sakkari has also won every match this week without dropping a set. In the quarterfinals, she beat Elena Rybakina 7-5, 6-4 in a very solid performance.

Against Rybakina, Sakkari won 76% of her first-serve points and was only broken once in the match. She also held Rybakina to 47% of her second serves won. Sakkari was the better player from the baseline during the match and had a great combination of both using consistent depth to keep Rybakina from attacking and using her forehand to dictate when she got the chance.

Sakkari’s heavy forehand works very well in these conditions and she’s able to be aggressive when she has time to set up on her groundstrokes. And with Sakkari’s speed around the court, trying to hit through her is very difficult.

Badosa, however, has the rally tolerance to beat Sakkari. She can hang with Sakkari in long rallies and has the easy power to rush the Greek and not allow her to dictate.

Sakkari’s backhand will be the weakest shot groundstroke on the court and Badosa should be able to match Sakkari in forehand-to-forehand exchanges and take control of the backhand-to-backhand exchanges.

Badosa, having won 10 straight matches in Indian Wells, will also be confident coming into this match.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised to see that the Spaniard isn’t a bigger favorite. Badosa is the play.

Pick: Badosa ML (-130 via BetMGM)

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