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WTA Indian Wells Tennis Picks, Predictions: Our 2 Best Bets for McNally vs Riske & Brengle vs Li (March 9)

WTA Indian Wells Tennis Picks, Predictions: Our 2 Best Bets for McNally vs Riske & Brengle vs Li (March 9) article feature image
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Robert Prange/Getty. Pictured: Madison Brengle hits a forehand at the Dubai Open.

We’ve finally made it to the Sunshine Double! And first of the duo, the WTA 1000 in Indian Wells, is sure to bring some top-notch tennis.

With huge points and prize money on the line, players will fight their absolute hardest to be the last one standing next Sunday.

The good news for us is that value has presented itself in two of Wednesday’s matches.

Here is how I’m betting the first day of main draw tennis in Indian Wells.

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

Caty McNally (+203) vs Alison Riske (-257)

3:30 p.m. ET

Caty McNally didn’t have it easy in Indian Wells qualifying, but she managed to win consecutive three-setters to qualify for the main draw.  After taking down Anna-Lena Friedsam from a set down in her first qualifying match, McNally snuck past Kirsten Flipkens in the final qualifying round.

McNally was very solid in the win over Flipkens.  She limited Flipkens’ damage on her first serve, with the Belgian only winning 61% of her first-serve points. She also broke Flipkens’ serve on five different occasions. McNally’s instincts on the court and tennis IQ are very impressive.

In addition, through playing in qualifying, McNally will be acclimated to the extremely slow, high bouncing conditions in Indian Wells.

Alison Riske made the Adelaide 2 final, losing to Madison Keys, but hasn’t been the same since. Riske has lost four of her last five matches, including a 6-2, 6-7(5), 1-6 Doha loss to Magda Linette in her last match.

In that match with Linette, Riske only won 54% of her first-serve points and was broken six times on eight break points. She struggled to find her game and Linette was not fazed by her flatter groundstrokes.

Riske’s game does not suit the Indian Wells courts very well. She generally does better on lower-bouncing, quicker surfaces, which makes her such a threat on grass. It will be tough to adjust to the conditions in Indian Wells, especially given that she’s struggling and this is her first match of the event on the surface.

I think that this is the perfect scenario for a long match.

We have a qualifier in McNally who might not be playing her best tennis, but she’s acclimated to the conditions in Indian Wells, is confident from coming through qualifying and will understand how to play Riske on these courts.

On the other hand, Riske is the better player, but she’s not in great form and her game is not well-suited to the conditions. Plus, this is her opening match of the tournament.

Expect this match to go over the total.

Pick:  Over 20.5 games (-118 via PointsBet)

Madison Brengle (+122) vs Ann Li (-144)

7 p.m. ET

Madison Brengle is playing good tennis this season, however, she can still struggle against the best in the game. That was evident in her most recent 0-6, 2-6 loss to Garbine Muguruza.

In that match, the Spaniard held Brengle to 41% of her service points won and broke Brengle’s serve five times.

With that said, against players of a lower caliber than Muguruza, Brengle is a massive threat. She’s a solid 7-5 this season (besides a withdrawal) and has beaten tough opponents such as Dayana Yastremska and Amanda Anisimova.

Brengle is very consistent from the baseline and she gets terrific depth on her groundstrokes. She also has a great understanding of shot selection and how to make her opponent as uncomfortable as possible.

Ann Li has struggled since making the semifinals of the Melbourne Summer Set 2 semifinals against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, losing five of her last six matches.

In her latest match, Li easily lost to Xinyu Wang 2-6, 1-6. In that defeat, Li only won 39% of her service points compared to 63% for Wang. This included just 23% of her second-serve points. In addition, Li was broken six times in eight service games.

Li is a clean ball striker who can control the baseline when she’s playing well, but her consistency is not where it needs to be at the moment and she’s not confident in her groundstrokes.

This makes her a prime target for an upset in this matchup. Brengle thrives when opponents aren’t sure of themselves. She understands what to do to make opponents go for more than they should and she can cause an inconsistent player to become frustrated and self-destruct.

Given that Li’s consistency is not great at the moment and that she doesn’t quite have the weapons to hit through Brengle, this is a very tough matchup for her.

And, adding to the mental baggage for Li, she’s only won five games on Brengle in the four previous sets that they’ve played.

Trust Brengle to pull off the upset.

Pick: Brengle ML (+122 via FanDuel)

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