Djokovic vs. Nishikori
|Date & Time||Monday May 7, 2018, 11:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic meet in the first round of the 2018 tennis Madrid Masters.
Kei Nishikori lost his first match in Barcelona, but he’s proven to have found his form by making the final in the Monte Carlo Masters. Nishikori has been dealing with nagging injury issues, but he’s an impressive 5-2 on clay this season, and that includes wins over Alexander Zverev ad Marin Cilic. When healthy and feeling good, Nishikori is always a threat in any tournament due to his defense and shotmaking ability. On a slow clay surface, it only helps Nishikori to get to extra balls and get in those long rallies that he enjoys. However, there are concerns condiering Nishikori did retire in his last match and admitted this surface isn’t the best for his wrist. Nishikori has won nine of his last 12 matches on clay court.
Novak Djokovic enters this tournament just 5-5 on the season and has lost his last two matches on clay. Djokovic is still obviously trying to get 100 percent healthy and back in his regular form, as he still doesn’t look comfortable out there and is struggling with his return. The good news for Djokovic is that three of his last four losses have gone the distance, so that competitive fire is still there and he’s not getting smoked off the court. Still, the inconsistent play has to be frustrating for Djokovic at this point of his career. Djokovic hasn’t lost in the first round of a Masters 1000 since the 2006 Monte-Carlo Masters. Djokovic has split his last six matches on clay court.
These two have played 13 times and Djokovic has won 11 of those meetings. The most recent played match was in the 2016 ATP World Tour Finals, a match Djokovic won in straight sets. Djokovic has won five of the last seven meetings in straight sets, and his last loss to Nishikori came in the 2014 US Open.
The fact Nishikori mentioned his wrist in his last match is a red flag moving forward on this surface. He also said it’s more than a wrist, as this injury impacts his hand and forearm. With a guy who never folds quickly in Djokovic, win or lose, Nishikori is going to be in for a long match. I want the guy who isn’t still banged up. The history is also on our side here as well.
I’ll side with Djokovic in this intriguing match.