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ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament 2019: Semi-final 2, Kei Nishikori vs Stan Wawrinka, Preview and Prediction

Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka
Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka
ANALYST
Modified 16 Feb 2019
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The second semi-final of 2019 ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament at Rotterdam presents a mouth-watering clash between the top seed Kei Nishikori and three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.

In recent times, both players have struggled with injuries and loss of form. It’s the Japanese who has found his mojo in the new season and is now somewhat close to the elite level he is capable of.

However, the recovery process for the Swiss star has been more difficult. Though he has shown flashes of brilliance, he is nowhere close to his very best. Having said that, the whole tennis world knows that when he is on, Stan is an unstoppable force.

The two have faced each other nine times, with Stan edging their head to head record 5-4. Their most recent encounter was at last year’s Cincinnati Masters, which the Swiss star won in straight sets.

Kei Nishikori: ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament - Day Five
Kei Nishikori: ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament - Day Five

The Japanese star though comes into this match on the back of some consistent performances. He has won the Brisbane International tournament this year, and reached the quarter-final of the year’s first Grand Slam, where he had to retire more due to fatigue than injury against Novak Djokovic.

Fortunately for Kei, he has shown little signs of injury or fatigue in this tournament. After losing the very first set he played in this tournament to Herbert, it has been all smooth-sailing for the Asian number one. He has not even come close to losing a set since then.

However, one minor worry for him has been his serve, especially his second serve. Though he won his quarter-final match against Marton Fucsovics in two comfortable sets, he got broken twice and his second serve win percentage was at a meager 40%.

Stan Wawrinka: ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament - Day Five
Stan Wawrinka: ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament - Day Five

It is this second serve of Kei that Stan Wawrinka would like to exploit. He did that very well against Denis Shapovalov in his quarter-final. He attacked the Canadian’s second serve, as a result of which the Next Gen star could win only 29% of his second serve points, a tactic Stan is certain to employ against Nishikori.

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If Stan produces his best tennis, that is good enough to get the better of almost any tennis player on this planet. Even a not fully fit Stan is capable of that magic.

Though one cannot rule out such a performance from Stan in the semi-final, such performances have been a rarity in recent times. At the moment, it seems Nishikori is well-placed to even up their career head to head record by winning this encounter.

Prediction: Kei Nishikori to win in 3 sets.

Published 16 Feb 2019, 12:04 IST
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