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.
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
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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