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WTA Miami Tennis Picks, Predictions: Trust Paolini to Continue Sunshine Swing Success (March 22)

WTA Miami Tennis Picks, Predictions: Trust Paolini to Continue Sunshine Swing Success (March 22) article feature image
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Icon Sportswire/Getty. Pictured: Jasmine Paolini hits a backhand at the Indian Wells tennis tournament.

As we say goodbye to Indian Wells we say hello to Miami!

In the Sunshine State, the courts are quicker and the air is thicker, but the level of tennis should still be high.

Here are two plays to think about from the WTA Tour on Tuesday in Miami.

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

Ekaterina Alexandrova (-136) vs Jasmine Paolini (+112)

12:30 p.m. ET

Ekaterina Alexandrova will be looking to turn her season around in Miami. At Indian Wells, Alexandrova barely snuck by Elvina Kalieva before falling in three sets to Simona Halep.

In both of Alexandrova’s Indian Wells matches, she won under 50% of her second serves and was broken a combined 13 times. She also wasn’t landing many first serves, as she served less than 50% of her first serves in against both Kalieva and Halep.

For a player who is used to getting free points and short balls from her serves, Indian Wells was a rough tournament for Alexandrova on that front. As a whole, 2022 has been subpar for the Russian, as she’s gone 3-5 and has been unable to win consecutive matches.

Jasmine Paolini, on the other hand, played high-quality tennis in Indian Wells. Paolini made the third round, beating Katie Boulter and world number five Aryna Sabalenka before falling to Viktorija Golubic in three sets.

All three of Paolini’s opponents in Indian Wells won 60% or less of their service points. In addition, both Sabalenka and Boulter won under 35% of their second-serve points. Overall, Paolini broke her opponents’ serves a combined 15 times.

Paolini’s baseline game has been outstanding recently, and she’s very quick around the court. It’s hard to hit through her, with opponents often going for more than they should.

Alexandrova will be more aggressive on her serve and from the baseline than Paolini, whereas Paolini has less power but more consistency than the Russian.

While Alexadrova did get a set off of Halep, she is still struggling to balance having power with having rally tolerance. She’s overhitting at times and struggles to find a “Plan B” for her game, which will be tough when playing against Paolini’s consistent game.

And given how Alexandrova has struggled recently with her serve, combined with Paolini’s prowess when returning, it seems like Paolini is playing Alexandrova at the right time.

The wrong player is favored in this match and Paolini should win.

Pick: Paolini ML (+112 via FanDuel)

Kaia Kanepi (-240) vs Maryna Zanevska (+192)

12:30 p.m. ET

Kaia Kanepi had impressive wins in Indian Wells over Robin Montgomery and Belinda Bencic, but she played a poor match in her third-round loss to Harriet Dart.

Kanepi has a huge first serve and hits massive groundstrokes that can cut through even the slower Indian Wells conditions, as she won over 70% of her first serves in every match last week.

Against Montgomery and Bencic, Kanepi also did a good job punishing second serves, as neither opponent was able to win 40% of their second serves. Dart’s 59% second-serve points won was more about Kanepi being “off” than anything else.

Kanepi is 7-3 on the year and reached the Australian Open quarterfinals, falling to Iga Swiatek in three sets. The Estonian is one of the most powerful players on the WTA Tour and can take the racquet out of opponents’ hands.

Maryna Zanevska lost in a three-set marathon match against Marta Kostyuk in the first round of Indian Wells. Zanevska had many opportunities to close the match out, but could not do so.

Against Kostyuk, Zanevksa only won 32% of her second-serve points and was broken seven times during the match. With that said, the Belgian did return well, breaking Kostyuk’s serve six times and winning 57% of the points on Kostyuk’s second serve.

Zanevska doesn’t do anything particularly special, but she’s solid from the baseline, with good rally tolerance and depth of shot. She’s also moves around the court well and is physically fit.

I don’t think that this is a good matchup for Zanevska. Kanepi hits with a completely different pace and level of aggression than what Zanevska is used to and she’s played with a high level of controlled aggression.

While the humidity will hurt Kanepi, I don’t anticipate her being on court long enough for it to be a problem. And overall the fast courts are beneficial for her game.

Zanevska does not have the weapons to hurt Kanepi on a hard court and the Estonian will be able to dictate from the baseline.

When looking at Elo ratings, Kanepi’s overall Elo is 151.1 points higher than Zanevska’s and her hard-court Elo is 170.4 points higher.

This spread is too small and Kanepi should win comfortably.

Pick: Kanepi -3.5 games (-122 via FanDuel)

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