Italian Open 2021: Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Carreno Busta preview, head-to-head & prediction

Kei Nishikori
Kei Nishikori
Rudra Biswas

Match details

Fixture: (11) Pablo Carreno Busta vs Kei Nishikori

Date: 11 May 2021

Tournament: Internazionali BNL d'italia 2021

Round: Second round (Round of 32)

Venue: Rome, Italy

Category: WTA 1000

Surface: Red clay

Prize money: $1,835,490

Match timing: Approx. 2 pm local time, 5.30 pm IST

Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video

Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Carreno Busta preview

The second round of the 2021 Italian Open will see an exciting matchup between 11th seed Pablo Carreno Busta and former top 5 player Kei Nishikori.

Carreno Busta won a title on clay earlier this year, at the Andalucia Open. He followed up that run with a last-four appearance in Barcelona, where he succumbed to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard will be keen to extend his run of good form with a strong showing in Rome.

Kei Nishikori hits a forehand
Kei Nishikori hits a forehand

Kei Nishikori, on the other hand, began his season in less than ideal form, losing five of his first seven matches in 2021. But the Japanese turned his fortunes around in Dubai, where he beat David Goffin and Reiilly Opelka en route to reaching the semifinals of a tour event for the first time since 2019.

Nishikori has seemingly carried his rich vein of form into the clay season, accumulating a 4-2 win-loss record so far. The 31-year-old has already defeated top 30 players like Cristian Garin, Karen Khachanov and Fabio Fognini, with the last of those wins coming in the Rome first round on Monday.

Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Carreno Busta head-to-head

Pablo Carreno Busta at the 2019 Australian Open
Pablo Carreno Busta at the 2019 Australian Open

Kei Nishikori and Pablo Carreno Busta are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head meetings. While Nishikori had beaten Carreno Busta in a controversial five-set epic at the 2019 Australian Open, the Spaniard exacted revenge this year at Melbourne in fairly straightforward fashion.

Kei Nishikori vs Pablo Carreno Busta preview

This is a fairly well-balanced matchup, given the duo's somewhat similarly well-rounded games. Although 11th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta is the favorite on paper, he cannot afford to take his opponent lightly.

Kei Nishikori has displayed some spectacular shotmaking in his matches this season, showing glimpses of his old self. That said, the Japanese has been unable to sustain his level for long periods when pitted against a top player.

It goes without saying that Nishikori will have to show more endurance if he wants to outplay Carreno Busta, who has been in the form of his life lately.

Pablo Carreno Busta hits a backhand
Pablo Carreno Busta hits a backhand

The Spaniard excels more on hardcourt, but his great court positioning and footwork make him a force to reckon with on clay too. While he doesn't generate a lot of power on his groundstrokes, his ability to consistently hit deep makes sure that the opponent is on the move at all times.

Carreno Busta can tactically outclass even the best of players with his efficient game, and Nishikori would have to be at his absolute best if he wants to reach the Rome third round.

Prediction: Pablo Carreno Busta to win in three sets.

Edited by Musab Abid
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