Kei Nishikori vs Novak Djokovic
The Italian Open, the great warm-up before the French Open, has always given betting websites and tennis aficionados a great sneak peek into what they can expect when the best tennis players in the world grace the beautiful clay courts at Roland Garros.
The quarter-finals for the Men’s Singles set up some exciting matches for fans to watch. There’s no wonder why fans are expecting great action from this year’s tournament with players such as Rafael Nadal, Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev making the Last Eight.
However, the must-watch match among the four quarter-final games is the one between Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori. While the two have fallen far from the Top Ten rankings of the ATP, they have shown us time and time again that they can give us a thrilling match on clay.
Djokovic has a lot to prove in this match and will want to make it to his fifth straight Italian Open final. His pre-2017 form hasn’t made its return, and the Serb’s fans are fervently hoping that he can return to his dominating form in time for the French Open.
While he is still trying to rediscover the form that made him the world’s best, he is managing to pull off an impressive string of victories through three rounds in the Italian Open. Alexandr Dolgopolov and Nikoloz Basilashvili were helpless as Djokovic outplayed them in every facet of the game. Albert Ramos-Vinolas had a great second set, but Novak’s strong first set ensured that he will cruise through to his first ATP Tour quarter-final of the season.
Meanwhile, Nishikori is having a curious season on clay. He bowed out early at Barcelona and Madrid just after making the Monte-Carlo Masters final. While his performance in Italy is a great improvement over his dismal play in Spain, bookies took note of his full-set match against Grigor Dimitrov.
Nishikori’s numbers also tell of a concerning (albeit only on a minor degree) trend. One can see that the Japanese star is underperforming after comparing his current clay-court stats to his efforts the previous year. While the drops seem to be minute, these provide good insight on how his clay season is going this season.
Fans of the talented Japanese star hope that the man will be able to finally break his slump against Djokovic in this match.
The Serb has Nishikori’s number when it comes to their personal match record. The Japanese star has only won twice out of the fourteen times they have met on the ATP Tour.
The last time Nishikori won against Djokovic was at the US Open almost four years ago. The four-set semi-final took almost three hours to finish, and it took Nishikori a lot of effort in order to defeat Djokovic. The Serbian had the far more superior service game, but his returns caused the Japanese to steal the third set and end it all in the fourth.
After that match, every game they have played have been won by Djokovic. Kei definitely did his best in fighting back, but Novak’s sterling form made him an impossible opponent to overcome. Their most recent meeting in Madrid is evidence of Djokovic’s still-superb game.
Nishikori is more than aware of his terrible record against the Serb and is hoping that he can turn it around here.
“I hope I can avenge against Novak,” the World No 24 told the ATP World Tour. “He’s coming back from his injury and I’m happy to see him back on the tour. I always look to challenge him in a match.”
The two actually met in the same stage during the 2015 Rome Masters, and it took Novak all of three sets in order to put Nishikori away. Djokovic, currently ranked 18 on the ATP ladder, clearly established the pace of the game and stopped his opponent from finding his stroke.
What are the odds?
It’s not hard to see why Djokovic is seen by neutrals and online bookies as the overwhelming favourite to win the match. His stellar tennis and prior history with Nishikori gives him the definite advantage.
Sites like us gives Djokovic 2.40 odds with a -1.50 Asian Handicap. Meanwhile, Kei Nishikori’s 2.44 Money Line odds attract those who believe that the Japanese hitter will be able to make a miraculous upset happen.
What Nishikori needs to do in order to upset the odds is to deny Djokovic the opportunity to find his groove. He must make sure the Serb does not easily find his shots and target awkward places for the Serb to chase.
However, Novak is still a supreme tennis player despite his inconsistent form. I don’t know if Nishikori will be able to even push Djokovic to full sets.
Other notable match-ups
Italian Open Men’s Singles QF
David Goffin vs Alexander Zverev: Their last game in the tour was in Munich, where Alexander Zverev wowed the home crowd with a full-set thriller. Can David Goffin turn things around and take the game to his younger opponent in Italy?
Rafael Nadal vs Fabio Fognini: It’s been almost three years since Fabio Fognini managed to pull off a wild five-game upset over Rafael Nadal. Meanwhile, the Spaniard has thrown his stunning loss to Dominic Thiem out the window and is back to his winning ways. He should easily cruise past Fognini if everything goes to plan.
Click for more tennis betting options.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.