The Picks: Roger, Rafa & Serena ready to rock. Indian Wells, March 20

Berdych IW 15 TR MALT9830

Roger Federer vs. Tomas Berdych

Since 2009, the two have faced off 10 times and have split it down the middle. The two played each other once last year, when Federer overcame Berdych at 2014 Dubai in three sets, and in 2013 it was also in Dubai, when the Czech smacked his huge serves to grab it.

These two know each other quite well, so whomever cracks their first serve, move the balls around, charges the net, go super low at the backhands and strikes as hard as they can with their forehands will have the edge. Easy, right? No, but that doesn’t mean that they will miss if they are a little off. Without question, Federer has more variety, but Berdych is a little stronger from his daunting serves. Both men have played very well this week and it will be very close, but Federer has been more stylistic at Indian Wells and he will win in three tight sets.

Rafael Nadal vs. Milos Raonic

The Spaniard is looking better again, but so has the Canadian. Still, Nadal isn’t up this his usual dominance this year, as he is coming back after his injury in the last half of 2014. His forehand is not perfect, but he is swinging away and crushing from both sides. Nadal is not banging his first serves, and he needs to hit his backhands deeper, but overall, he has been respectable and very soon, he will be ready to grab No. 1 again.

However, Raonic is ready. He has never beaten Nadal in five matches, but he has been reasonable close. His serve is gigantic, he has a huge forehand and he does not back off. He is not as fast as Nadal, he doesn’t return as well and doesn’t mix it up enough, but when he gets rolling he is hard to stop. The 24-year-old is ready to dance. Raonic will upset Nadal in three sets.

Serena Williams vs. Simona Halep

Can anyone actually beat Serena Williams if she is playing extremely well? I doubt it. However, Williams has been down on herself at times. Look at the first half of 2014 when she was out of it and not sure why she was missing all the time. But she has calmed down and, from late July, she was been lights out.

Amazingly, the No. 3 Halep looked terrific in upsetting Williams in the round robin at the WTA Final in Singapore, but they played again in the final and Williams overpowered her.

Halep has been pretty darn good over the past three weeks or so and she is ready to outstroke Serena from the baseline. She might be able to because the 23-year-old is quicker than the 33-year-old, but she is not as strong off her forehand, although Halep is right there with her backhand. Even though Halep is striking her serves, they are not as big enough against Serena and she can be attacked off of her second serves. Serena badly wants to win the tournament at Indian Wells, the first time at the desert since 2001. Halep will play very well, but Serena will out think her and win in three sets.

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