These two players have already faced each other once. It was in Barcelona in 2019, and Kei Nishikori won quite easily (6-1 6-3).
Kei Nishikori has only played once in Rotterdam before. It was in 2019 and he had reached the semi-finals (defeat after a great match in 3 sets against Stan Wawrinka).
As for Felix Auger-Aliassime, he will play in this Dutch ATP 500 for the third time in his career. In his first participation, in 2018, he was eliminated in the first round. Last year, the Canadian reached the final and Gaël Monfils stole the trophy from him (easy against Auger-Aliassime you’re going to tell me).
I love Kei Nishikori and I am happy to see him competing again. Since his return, the Japanese has shown us that he has lost none of his explosiveness and ability to disrupt his opponents with unpredictable shots. Unfortunately, he still lacks a lot of consistency but also the stamina to put up big performances.
Kei Nishikori may well surprise us in this match. Indeed, he has the ability to very well relaunch the services of his opponent, but also to get inside his head to make him commit faults. It should also be pointed out that the former world 4th is very comfortable in these indoor conditions. Indeed, except at the London Masters, he has not lost in the first round of an indoor tournament since 2011. Moreover, he remains on 6 semi-finals during his last 7 participations in an indoor tournament. Not bad, right?
Now, let’s be objective, Kei Nishikori is not yet at the same level as these last beautiful years while Felix Auger-Aliassime is in very good shape (7 victories in his last 9 matches, and a final in Melbourne).
Felix Auger-Aliassime should have a physical advantage in this match, and this will be far from negligible. He is also better at serving, and should more than once succeed in taming his opponent’s serve. In the game, his power could allow him to choke Nishikori who I don’t see running for more than 2 hours (in case the match is more balanced than expected and it lasts).
Despite my mistrust of Nishikori and his ability to play very well in these conditions, Felix Auger-Aliassime seems to me to be in a better position to win here. The Canadian will still have to be mentally strong. And that’s a bit of a toss-up right now. Oops.
Prediction: Felix Auger-Aliassime wins