Fixture: (5) Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori
Date: 5 May 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €2,614,465
Match timing: Approx. 1 pm local time, 4.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori preview
Kei Nishikori opened his 2021 Mutua Madrid Open campaign with a hard-fought but straight-sets win over Karen Khachanov on Tuesday. A former finalist here, the Japanese needed 2 hours and 18 minutes to fend off his big-hitting opponent.
Nishikori has now been rewarded with a Round of 32 matchup with fifth seed Alexander Zverev.
Zverev has had a few encouraging results this season, including an ATP 500 title in Mexico. That said, he hasn't quite managed to find his footing on the red clay yet.
The German holds a 2-2 win-loss record on the dirt so far this season. He made a second-round exit at the Monte Carlo Masters, before suffering another surprise loss - at the hands of Ilya Ivashka - in Munich.
Zverev does hold a strong record in Madrid though, where he is a former champion. The 24-year-old will be hopeful of turning over a new leaf in the Spanish capital this week.
Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori head-to-head
Alexander Zverev leads Kei Nishikori in the head-to-head with a slender 2-1 margin. That said, it is the Japanese who has taken the duo's only prior meeting on clay, which came at the 2018 Monte Carlo Masters.
Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori prediction
Alexander Zverev enters the contest as a firm favorite on paper, but will be expecting some stiff resistance from his opponent.
Kei Nishikori hasn't had the biggest of results heading into the claycourt swing this year, but he has shown glimpses of his best tennis in some of his recent matches. The 31-year-old has managed to hold his own against the likes of Cristian Garin and Rafael Nadal lately, which should give him plenty of confidence.
Nishikori also did well to neutralize the pace coming off Karen Khachanov's racket in his last match. He made the best of his lethal second-serve return - winning a whopping 71% of the points on it - and managed to take six of the seven break points that came his way.
In Zverev, Nishikori faces a similar opponent who will look to take control of the match using his big serve and groundstrokes. The Japanese, however, is more than capable of staying in the long baseline rallies. He also holds an impeccable record in three-setters, and might just have enough in the tank to pull off an upset here.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori to win in three sets.