This article is part of our Tennis Picks series.
Both women's semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open will be played Friday from the hard courts of Indian Wells, California. The top two players in the rankings are both clear favorites in their matchups, but one underdog can take confidence from a recent big win over her opponent. All Tennis Odds & Lines are taken from DraftKings Sportsbook, but you can sometimes find more favorable odds on some of these matches by checking mobile sportsbooks such as FanDuel Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, or any of the other best sports betting sites. We offer exclusive sign-up bonuses for some of those sportsbooks, as well as specific bonuses for users located in Massachusetts, where online sports betting has officially gone live.
All matches at the BNP Paribas Open are best of three sets, which is the case for all WTA 1000 level tournaments. A mix of players' previous hard court results, form thus far at Indian Wells and stylistic matchups can help pinpoint intriguing betting opportunities, both among favorites likely to cruise to victory and underdogs ready to pull off upsets.
Indian Wells Odds: Sabalenka vs. Sakkari
Aryna Sabalenka (-290) vs. Maria Sakkari (+230)
Sakkari's clearly comfortable at Indian Wells, as she's looking to reach the final here for a second year in a row. The problem for her is that a much improved version of Sabalenka stands in her way. Last year, Sabalenka was battling the yips on her second serve, routinely serving double-digit double faults while still maintaining a top-10 ranking. The Belarusian has put those serving woes behind her, unlocking a new level to her game that has cemented her as the biggest challenger to Iga Swiatek's spot atop the WTA rankings. Sabalenka's in firm control of the No. 2 ranking after a 16-1 start to 2023, which includes her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
Sakkari has been remarkably resilient here, winning all four of her matches in three sets while coming back from a set down three times. While her ability to pull out close matches is admirable, Sakkari's results here also suggest that the No. 7 seed has struggled to maintain her top form over the course of an entire match, which doesn't bode well for her chances of sticking with Sabalenka, who beat the red-hot Barbora Krejcikova 6-4 in the third and has dropped just six games otherwise. Their head-to-head is close, with a modest 4-3 edge for Sabalenka, but Sabalenka's playing the best tennis of her career in 2023, and the same can't be said for Sakkari, though a win here could change that narrative.
Indian Wells Prediction: Sabalenka def. Sakkari 6-2, 6-4
Indian Wells Odds: Swiatek vs. Rybakina
Iga Swiatek (-380) vs. Elena Rybakina (+295)
Talk about a heavyweight battle. Rybakina's No. 10 ranking doesn't include her points from winning Wimbledon last year, as no ranking points were awarded at that tournament, but after beating Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 en route to the final of the Australian Open, Rybakina has established herself as the No. 3 contender on the WTA Tour behind Swiatek and Sabalenka. The hard courts in Melbourne play significantly faster than those in Indian Wells, though, so it's advantage Swiatek in this rematch. This slower surface is more favorable to Swiatek's aggressive yet measured approach and superior defensive capabilities, as opposed to Rybakina's first-strike brand of tennis.
Swiatek is still the player to beat on the WTA Tour despite failing to claim the Australian Open title, as she's still the reigning champion at both the French Open and the US Open. Remarkably, her 16-3 record this year doesn't include a single three-setter, as the world No. 1 has steamrolled the competition in straight sets every time she's gone up a set but failed to come back if she's fallen behind. The first set will thus be critical in this match. Outside of their recent meeting at the Australian Open, Swiatek and Rybakina played one other time, with Swiatek winning in straight sets back in 2021.
Indian Wells Prediction: Swiatek def. Rybakina 7-5, 4-6, 6-2
While I like Swiatek to pull this match out, Rybakina's the better value of the two underdogs, as she has longer odds than Sakkari but a better chance to upset her favored opponent.