This will be the second time these two players will compete against each other, after the 2019 US Open. Alex De Minaur won in 4 sets.
This is the first time that Alex De Minaur participates in this ATP 500 in Rotterdam.
Kei Nishikori, meanwhile, is playing this Dutch tournament for the second time in his career, after 2019 when he reached the semi-finals.
In this edition
In the first round, Alex De Minaur easily defeated his compatriot John Millman (2-0). In the second set, the young Australian led 4-0 had to relax and get debreaked twice. Luckily, the man quickly recovered. Phew.
For his part, Kei Nishikori unlocked his victory counter in his first match of the week against Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Japanese won solidly in two sets (including a tiebreak). It should be noted that the Canadian had a physical problem.
I’m very happy to see Kei Nishikori win a match again, especially this way. He was punchy in the rallies and served very well. He only managed a small ace, but 74% of his firsts went for 85% points on it. Not bad. Also noteworthy was his good control of the rallies and his ability to attack as soon as he returned from service.
Alex De Minaur should still be the favorite of this match (at least he will be mine). However, he should not have an easy task.
First of all because the Australian could have a tough opponent in the rally. Kei Nishikori obviously doesn’t run as much as he does, but he has the explosive moves that allow him to finish quickly.
Another interesting element in favor of the Japanese: service returns. Nishikori is very doubtful about oppressing his opponents from the start. Even if he has improved a lot, especially on his first balls, Alex De Minaur can’t say that his serve is an exceptional weapon. We saw him against Millman, where he won only 31% of his second balls. Kei Nishikori could therefore find an opening more than once in this game sector. Alex De Minaur also has a few qualities in this area, which I consider less strong than the Japanese.
Where I think Alex De Minaur should be able to take the lead is in the physical battle. He is able to run for a long time and play with high intensity. His early ball grabbing could well annoy his opponent of the day. Kei Nishikori is not yet 100% physically fit, and the demands of his opponent should cause him problems. Because yes, I expect many long rallies in this match.
Kei Nishikori is coming back very well and he has the opportunity to put in a great performance here. Let’s not forget that he is comfortable in these indoor conditions with no elimination in the 2nd round in all the indoor tournaments he has played since 2018: 1 quarter-final, 3 semi-finals, and 2 finals. Hey, but these are great statistics.
Luckily for Alex De Minaur, he also has the “kéké” in this field. In the last two years, outside of the London Masters, the Australian has reached the final of an indoor tournament 3 times (in 4 participations) and has never lost in the 2nd round.
All right, enough with the numbers, let’s play the game!
Prediction: Alex De Minaur wins