Japanese tennis superstar, Kei Nishikori has made it into the second round of the 2019 ATP Australian Open. At this stage of the tournament, Nishikori will play against Ivo Karlovic from Croatia.
Ivo Karlovic won a tight opening round match as he won in 4 sets against Hubert Hurkacz. It was a match where both Karlovic and Hurkacz served exceptionally well, and it resulted in all the sets going to tiebreakers. During the win, Karlovic hit 39 aces which resulted in him winning 96% of his service games. That being said, Ivo Karlovic will need to improve his receiving as the Croatian only won 21% of his return points. This is expected to be a much tougher match for Karlovic as he is playing the world number 8. Karlovic will need to improve his returning if he wishes to compete against Kei Nishikori.
On the other side of the coin, Kei Nishikori won a tough 5 set match in the opening round. Nishikori looked very poor in the opening 2 sets, but the Japanese superstar fought back exceptionally well in the final 3 sets to win the match. Nishikori’s returning was very strong as the Japanese superstar won 48% of his receiving points which resulted in him winning 8 break points. Kei Nishikori has been in exceptional form prior to this event as he won the ATP Brisbane International. Nishikori has a very strong record at the Australian Open as he has made the quarterfinals of this event 3 times in the past.
Kei Nishikori and Ivo Karlovic have played 5 times in the past. As it currently stands, Kei Nishikori has won 3 head-to-head matches while Ivo Karlovic has won 2 head-to-head matches. The most recent fixture between these two players was in 2016 at the US Open where Kei Nishikori won in straight sets.
Taking everything into consideration, I am going to pick Kei Nishikori to win this match. Karlovic looks to be struggling with his returning and the could be very costly against an all-round player like Nishikori. Kei Nishikori is in great form and I see him being too strong for Ivo Karlovic.