Mikhail Kukushkin vs. Rafael Nadal
|Date & Time||Thursday July 5, 2018, 7:00 AM (EDT)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
Rafael Nadal and Mikhail Kukushkin meet in the second round of the 2018 tennis Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal is coming off a straight sets win over Dudi Sela that took 26 games to decide. In the victory, Nadal won 79 percent of his first serve points and 55 percent of his second serve points. Nadal won 72 percent of his total service points, produced six breaks and hit 31 winners. Nadal can still improve, as he did have four double faults and gave his opponent four break chances, but it was a nice effortless first round victory overall. For a guy who hasn’t played in over a month, Nadal looked fresh and confident with his winners. However, in order to make a serious run at a title, Nadal has to improve his second serve and limit the unforced errors. Nadal has lost before the third round of the Wimbledon in three of his last five appearances. Nadal has won five of his last seven matches on grass court.
Mikhail Kukushkin is coming off a four sets win over Vasek Pospisil that took 36 games to decide. In the victory, Kukushkin won 79 percent of his first serve points and 68 percent of his second serve points. Kukushkin won 77 percent of his total service points and was broken just once in his first round victory. Kukushkin is playing his most consistent tennis of the year on grass court and will give himself a chance in this match if he can continue to serve as well as he has as of late. The concern is Kukushkin is never the same player when he plays better competition and usually folds under pressure. Kukushkin has two career wins over top-10 players, but none of them have come since 2014. Kukushkin has a chance to make the third round of a grand slam for the third time since 2015. Kukushkin has won four of his last five matches on grass court.
These two have met three times and Nadal has won all three meetings and leads the history seven to one sets. The most recent match was in the 2014 Wimbledon, a match Nadal won in four sets.
The head to head means very little considering these two haven’t played in four years. However, Kukushkin has been awful against the top tier players in his career and hasn’t beaten a top-10 player in four years. Kukushkin also goes home rather early in grand slam play. This should be another match where Nadal can iron out the wrinkles and use it to gear up for the more competitive rounds.
Nadal wins this match in straight sets.