Fixture: Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Andujar
Date: 20 October 2020
Tournament: ATP European Open
Round: 1st round (Round of 32)
Venue: Antwerp, Belgium
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Indoor hardcourt
Prize money: €394,800
Match timing: Approx. 2.30 pm CEST, 6 pm IST
Live telecast: United States - Tennis Channel
Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Andujar preview
Former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori is still making his way back from the right elbow surgery that he underwent in October last year. The Japanese is just beginning to find his feet back on the circuit, and will be hoping to make a deep run at Antwerp this week.
In four events (all on clay) since his comeback after almost a year off the court, Nishikori has won just two matches so far. Now into his 30s, the Japanese will be hoping to return to peak fitness in time for the Tokyo Olympics next year - one of his major career goals.
Nishikori's first opponent in Antwerp is Pablo Andujar, a former World No. 32 who is now ranked No. 54 in the world.
The Spaniard has done well on clay recently. He reached the final of a Challenger event in the Czech Republic followed by the semifinal of another Challenger in Romania, before making the second round at the ATP event in Sardinia.
Andujar has four career ATP titles under his belt, and is a threat to any player with his power-packed groundstrokes and efficient movement.
Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Andujar head-to-head
Kei Nishikori and Pablo Andujar have met on five occasions in the past, with Nishikori leading the head-to-head 4-1.
The Japanese player has won all of their three matches on outdoor hardcourt, with the claycourt encounters being split equally. This will be their first ever meeting on indoor hardcourt.
Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Andujar prediction
Kei NIshikori is not as match-fit as he would like, but indoor hardcourt might be more favorable to his game right now than outdoor clay.
Both he and Pablo Andujar will be looking to take control of the points from the baseline, and the more consistent player on the day will come through. Their inability to dominate on serve could result in a huge number of long rallies.
Nishikori's backhand could be the most crucial factor in this matchup. The shot is one of his biggest weapons, and if he can get it right, he should be able to come through unscathed.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori to win in straight sets.