Fixture: Kei Nishikori vs Miomir Kecmanovic
Date: 8 September 2020
Tournament: ATP Generali Open 2020
Round: First round (Round of 32)
Venue: Kitzbuhel, Austria
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €400,335
Match timing: 2 pm CEST, 5.30 pm IST
Kei Nishikori vs Miomir Kecmanovic preview
Kei Nishikori returns to professional tennis after a 12-month absence, at the ATP Generali Open in Kitzbuhel on Tuesday. He takes on Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in the first round.
A right-elbow injury had kept Nishikori out of professional tennis ever since his loss to Alex de Minaur at the US Open in 2019. The Japanese was all set to make his comeback on the American hardcourts, but had to pull out of both the Cincinnati Masters and the US Open after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Nishikori has since made a full recovery, and has been practicing hard on red dirt. The former US Open runner-up seems ready for the European clay swing, with the Kitzbuhel event acting as preparation for Roland Garros later this month.
Nishikori's opponent on Tuesday, Miomir Kecmanovic, has been steadily climbing up the ATP ladder over the last couple of years. The 21-year-old reached his first tour level semifinal at the New York Open earlier this year, and has played more than a few exhibition matches on clay in Serbia.
Recently, the young Serb registered a Grand Slam win at the US Open, defeating Gianluca Mager in five hard-fought sets. But he bowed out in the second round against 8th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, losing 3-6 6-3 3-6 4-6.
Kei Nishikori vs Miomir Kecmanovic head-to-head
The first round match in Kitzbuhel is the first ever between the two players, so the head-to-head between Kei Nishikori and Miomir Kecmanovic stands at 0-0. Currently, Nishikori is ranked 34th in the world rankings after sliding down due to his injury problems, while Kecmanovic is ranked 47th.
Kei Nishikori vs Miomir Kecmanovic prediction
Given his proven ability on clay and his vast experience, Kei Nishikori comes into the match with a slight edge. But the Japanese international has not played professional tennis in over a year, and we are yet to find out if he is suffering from the after-effects of contracting coronavirus.
Kecmanovic, on the other hand, comes into the match on the back of his solid early season form and his decent outing at the US Open, which would have given him plenty of confidence. If he is to win tomorrow, the Serb must put pressure on Nishikori's first serve and take advantage of the Japanese's lack of match sharpness.
The signs suggest Nishikori will struggle, but if he gets into a rhythm and begins to pick the ball early from the baseline, he should be able to get the win against Kecmanovic.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori to win in three sets.