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WTA Indian Wells Tennis Picks, Predictions: Saville and Paolini Live Dogs on Saturday (March 12)

WTA Indian Wells Tennis Picks, Predictions: Saville and Paolini Live Dogs on Saturday (March 12) article feature image
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Matthew Stockman/Getty. Pictured: Aryna Sabalenka hits a volley in a match against Simona Halep.

It’s been a fascinating start to Indian Wells and the matchups seem to get better and better as the tournament goes on.

With huge points and prize money on the line, players are fighting very hard to still be in contention for the title, and two matches on Saturday have presented value for us to capitalize on.

Here are two plays to consider from Saturday in the desert.

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

Jasmine Paolini (+333) vs Aryna Sabalenka (-500)

2 p.m. ET

After making the quarterfinals of Lyon last week, Jasmine Paolini had a very strong start to her Indian Wells campaign. In the first round, Paolini comfortably beat Katie Boulter 6-3, 6-2.

Boulter had won 10 of her last 11 matches, so for Paolini to easily push her aside was very impressive. Boulter only won 29% of the points on her second serve and 46% of her service points overall. Paolini broke Boulter’s serve five times.

When I looked at the Paolini-Boulter matchup, something that I didn’t place enough emphasis on was how the slow courts would make it even harder to hit through Paolini, with her incredible anticipation and foot speed. Paolini made it a nightmare for Boulter to try to hit through her.

Aryna Sabalenka is playing her first match of the tournament and first official match since losing to Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-3 in Doha.  That was a very forgettable match for the Belarusian, as she only won 42% of her service points and was broken seven times.

However, Sabalenka participated in the “Tie Break Tens” exhibition event, beating Simona Halep before losing to Maria Sakkari.

While nothing of substance can be taken from that event, Sabalenka will at least have some idea how the conditions will be for her match against Paolini. Given the unique conditions in Indian Wells, it is important to at least have some sort of recent experience playing there in a competitive (non-practice) situation.

Sabalenka hits a huge first serve and is ultra-aggressive from the baseline. The worry for her in this match is that the court will somewhat neutralize her big groundstrokes, giving Paolini, who is already very fast, more time to recover.

Paolini doesn’t just have great speed and anticipation, either. Her consistent depth is excellent, giving opponents few opportunities to attack her from the ground.

Overall, Sabalenka has a lot of power and probably edges this match out, but the surface should blunt some of her power and Paolini is more than capable of making this match close.

5.5 games is too many to be giving Paolini here.

Pick:  Paolini + 5.5 games (-115 via BetMGM)

Ons Jabeur (-530) vs Daria Saville (+390)

5 p.m. ET

Ons Jabeur’s last official match was a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Anett Kontaveit in Doha. In that match, Jabeur won only 50% of her service points and 24% of her return points. It was a nightmare match that saw Jabeur only generate one break point, which Kontaveit saved.

However, like Sabalenka, Jabeur played in the “Tie Break Tens” exhibition in Indian Wells. While Jabeur lost in her first match to Maria Sakkari, she will have had competitive experience playing in these conditions.

With that said, Jabeur’s game doesn’t exactly suit the Indian Wells conditions. She generally does better on faster, lower-bouncing courts where her excellent backhand slice can stay close to the court. In addition, Jabeur’s fitness is not the best and doesn’t lend itself to the physical tennis that the slow courts in Indian Wells produce.

One player whose game fits the Indian Wells courts perfectly is Daria Saville. And Saville has played very well in this tournament. She qualified and then beat Shuai Zhang 6-3, 6-2 in the first round.

Saville held Zhang to 48% of her service points won, including 41% on her second serve. Saville broke Zhang on 5/6 break points, while saving 12/13 break points on her own serve.

The Australian is playing excellent tennis at the moment. Saville frustrated Zhang with her movement and her forehand was heavy and deep in the court. Zhang found it hard to find opportunity to attack and, at times, went for more than she should have.

This is a bad matchup on these courts for Jabeur. The Tunisian won’t win many free points, with Saville forcing her to grind through this match and making the match as physical as possible.

Jabeur’s variety will keep Saville off-balance at times, but her patented backhand slice won’t be nearly as effective as it is on lower-bouncing surfaces and, therefore, won’t be a huge issue for Saville.

Like with Paolini, 5.5 games is too many to be giving Saville given the circumstances.

Pick: Saville +5.5 (-120 via FanDuel)

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