Fixture: Kei Nishikroi [JPN] vs Ilya Ivashka [BLR]
Date: 28 July 2021
Tournament: Olympics 2021
Round: Third round (Round of 16)
Venue: Ariake Tennis Park, Tokyo, Japan
Category: Olympic Games
Surface: Outdoor hard
Match timing: Approx. 1 pm local time, 9.30 am IST, 4 am GMT, 12 am EST
Live telecast: USA - NBC & Peacock TV | UK - BBC TV | India - Sony Liv
Kei Nishikori vs Ilya Ivashka preview
World No. 69 Nishikori was not expected to reach this stage of the tournament after he drew fifth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev in the first round. But he rolled back the years and snapped his two-year losing streak against top-10 opposition with a routine 6-3, 6-4 win over Rublev. He followed it up with a three-set win over first-time Olympian Marcos Giron of the USA.
Ilya Ivashka, meanwhile, has carried his rich vein of form into the Tokyo Olympics. Ivashka has enjoyed a steady climb up the rankings in recent months and enters his third-round match against Nishikori as the higher-ranked player.
Ivashka defeated newlywed Frenchman Gael Monfils in the first round and then summoned all of his mental fortitude to down Mikhail Kukushkin in three sets in the second.
Kei Nishikori vs Ilya Ivashka head-to-head
Kei Nishikori and Ilya Ivashka have never faced each other at any level, therefore the head-to-head between the pair currently stands at 0-0.
Kei Nishikori vs Ilya Ivashka prediction
Kei Nishikori is attempting to become a national treasure this week in the wake of Naomi Osaka's shock exit. The same could be said of Ilya Ivashka, who is the lone Belarusian left in singles following Aryna Sabalenka's surprise second-round defeat.
Ivashka has played some of the best tennis of his career in recent months. He blasted his way into the fourth round of Wimbledon before losing to the in-form Italian Matteo Berrettini.
He has carried that momentum into Tokyo, where he has registered two impressive victories. But If the Belarusian intends to extend his stay in the Japanese city, he will need to hit his spots consistently with his monstrous first serve against Nishikori.
Nishikori is a versatile baseliner with a reliable double-hander that cannot be easily punctured. He also has an extra incentive to perform, considering he is playing on home soil.
While he looked far from his vintage best against Giron, he is undoubtedly the superior player when compared to Ivashka and should hold an edge over the dangerous Belarusian.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori to win in three sets.