Roland Garros: Kei Nishikori vs Dan Evans preview, head-to-head & prediction | French Open 2020

Kei Nishikori (L) and Dan Evans at Indian Wells 2017.
Kei Nishikori (L) and Dan Evans at Indian Wells 2017.
Namit Kumar
Modified 28 Sep 2020

Match details

Fixture: Kei Nishikori vs Dan Evans

Date: 27 September 2020

Tournament: Roland Garros 2020

Round: First round (Round of 128)

Venue: Paris, France

Category: Grand Slam

Surface: Red clay

Prize money: Approx €38,000,000

Match timing: Approx. 1 pm CEST, 4.30 pm IST

Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / NBC Sports | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP

Also check out: The Complete French Open 2020 Schedule 

Kei Nishikori vs Dan Evans preview

Former World No. 5 Kei Nishikori faces British No. 1 Dan Evans in the first round of the French Open on Sunday, in what will be the former's first Grand Slam match since the 2019 US Open.

After a long absence from the tour due to injury, Nishikori faced yet another setback after he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. That led him to withdraw from the American hardcourt swing altogether.

The Japanese international began his season on European clay in Kitzbuhel. Although he didn't seem to be suffering from any long-term effects of the virus, he looked way off his best, bowing out to Miomir Kecmanovic in three sets.

Kei Nishikori at the Internazionali BNL D
Kei Nishikori at the Internazionali BNL D'Italia 2020.

The 30-year-old then picked up his first win of the year at the Rome Masters. Nishikori defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets at the Rome Masters, before bowing out to teenage sensation Lorenzo Musetti at the next hurdle.

In Hamburg, a convincing 0-6 3-6 defeat at the hands of Cristian Garin capped off a period of poor form for Nishikori.

His opponent in the first round in Paris, World No. 34 Dan Evans, has no dearth of experience on the tour. However, Evans too comes into the tournament in desperate need of good form.

After strong showings in Adelaide, Rotterdam and Dubai earlier this year, Evans has not been able to maintain consistency since the lockdown. The Brit bowed out of both the Cincinnati Masters and the US Open in the second round, before crashing out of the Rome Masters and the Hamburg Open at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov and Stefanos Tsitsipas respectively.

Kei Nishikori vs Dan Evans head-to-head

The match at Roland Garros is the fourth between the two players, and Kei Nishikori currently leads the head-to-head 2-1 over Dan Evans.

Nishikori prevailed in straight sets in both of their last two meetings, at Indian Wells 2017 and Davis Cup 2016. However, the Japanese was blown away by Evans 6-4 6-4 6-2 at the US Open back in 2013.

Kei Nishikori vs Dan Evans prediction

Dan Evans at the 2020 Hamburg Open.
Dan Evans at the 2020 Hamburg Open.

Given Dan Evans' inconsistent form this year, the match looks like a relatively simple first-round encounter for Kei Nishikori on paper. However, his own post-injury form will be a matter of concern for the Japanese international, and he will come into this match with fewer expectations than usual.

Evans' unpredictable style of play makes for exactly the sort of match Nishikori would not fancy under the current circumstances. The Brit's ability to extend points with his good defensive movement and varied groundstrokes might be particularly tricky to deal with in the unusual Parisian conditions this year.

Nishikori will look to expose the limitations in Evans' game by taking the ball early and using his excellent footwork to be aggressive in the rallies. But he will have to perform considerably better than he has over the past month to get anything out of this match.

Prediction: Dan Evans to win in four sets.

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Published 26 Sep 2020
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