WTA Indian Wells is continuing to produce incredible tennis and we’re on to the quarterfinals!
I’ve found value on both of Thursday’s fascinating quarterfinal matches, featuring Rybakina vs Muchova and Swiatek vs Cirstea.
Read on for my WTA Indian Wells picks for Thursday, March 16.
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WTA Indian Wells Odds, Picks
Elena Rybakina (-255) vs Karolina Muchova (+205)
Elena Rybakina has not dropped a set in Indian Wells so far, beating Varvara Gracheva 6-3, 6-0 in the round of 16. While Rybakina won just 55% of her service points, she saved 9/11 break points faced. The Kazakh won an impressive 60% of her return points, including 69% on her second serve, and broke seven times.
Rybakina, a 2023 Australian Open finalist, is now an impressive 13-4 on the season (all on hard). While not at the forefront of her win over Gracheva, Rybakina’s first serve is dominant and provides a huge leg up in her service games. The Kazakh has punishing groundstrokes that rip through her opposition, especially her forehand. But, Rybakina’s movement and rally tolerance are not the best.
Karolina Muchova continues to play excellent tennis, most recently defeating Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4. Muchova won just 57% of her service points and was broken on four occasions. However, on return, the Czech won 45% of her first-serve returns and broke six times.
Despite a recent injury, it has not affected Muchova’s level this tournament at all. She is currently 11-3 in 2023, with all matches on hard. The Czech plays with controlled aggression from the ground and she understands the right times to move forward. Muchova’s variety is excellent, especially her backhand slice. And Muchova’s forehand has done plenty of damage from the baseline.
This should be a hard-hitting match between two players with plenty of power. Muchova has generated at least nine break points in every match so far this week, and her return will help to blunt Rybakina’s serve.
I also trust Muchova’s patience and point construction more than Rybakina’s, which will be crucial on these slow courts, which force players to truly build points.
And, Muchova has made her variety work in the Indian Wells conditions. This will be crucial for keeping the ball out of the 6-foot Rybakina’s strike zone.
Pick: Muchova to win a set (-138 via FanDuel)
Iga Swiatek (-1600) vs Sorana Cirstea (+860)
Iga Swiatek continues to impress, defeating Emma Raducanu 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. Despite winning just 43% of her second-serve points, Swiatek won 88% of her first serves and wasn’t broken. Swiatek was dominant on return, winning 54% of her return points and broke on four occasions.
Swiatek is now an incredible 12-2 for the season (all on hard). The Indian Wells conditions suit her game very well. The high bounce gives her heavy forehand an extra kick to it and the slow conditions allow her to cover the court even better than she typically does.
The Pole’s backhand is solid and she gets excellent consistent depth on her groundstrokes. It’s extremely difficult to break her down on these courts.
Sorana Cirstea is playing excellent tennis, beating an erratic Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Cirstea won just 60% of her first serves and was broken four times. However, on return, the Romanian broke on six occasions, winning 56% of her second-serve returns.
Cirstea got off to a rough start to the season, but has improved her season-record to 8-6 after this Indian Wells run (all on hard). She is playing with excellent patience from the ground and hitting her targets.
Cirstea is able to hang in rallies and then use her forehand to create offense when her opponents give her the chance. The Romanian certainly doesn’t have overwhelming power, though.
This is a mismatch on these courts. Swiatek’s forehand, the best shot on the court, should drag Cirstea around the court until she finds an opening to put her away.
Swiatek is the more physical player with the bigger weapons and better rally tolerance. There’s nothing that Cirstea can really do to hurt her.
This match should be on Swiatek’s racquet and she should be able to pummel Cirstea’s backhand and ultimately overwhelm the Romanian with her controlled aggression.
Pick: Under 18.5 games (-126 via FanDuel)
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