Fixture: (5) Andrey Rublev [RUS] vs Kei Nishikori [JPN]
Date: 25 July 2021
Tournament: Tokyo Olympics 2020
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Ariake Tennis Park, Tokyo, Japan
Category: Olympic Games
Surface: Outdoor hard
Live telecast: USA - NBC & Peacock TV | UK - BBC TV | India - SonyLiv
Andrey Rublev vs Kei Nishikori preview
Russia's Andrey Rublev will launch his bid for a maiden Olympic medal against local favorite Kei Nishikori on Sunday.
Rublev made a solid start to his season, winning the title in Rotterdam and reaching the final of the Monte-Carlo Masters after defeating Rafael Nadal. But the 23-year-old's season has since stagnated; he suffered a shock opening-round defeat at the French Open and fell in the fourth round at Wimbledon.
The World No. 7 has been handed a brutal opening-round match in his first ever appearance at the Olympics as he faces Japan's very own Kei Nishikori.
Nishikori, a bronze medalist at the previous Olympic games in Rio, has struggled with form and fitness over the past few seasons. Ranked as high as No. 4 in the world at one point in time, the 2014 US Open finalist currently sits at No. 69.
But on his day, Nishikori remains one of the biggest threats on tour, especially in the early rounds when he is fresh.
Andrey Rublev vs Kei Nishikori head-to-head
Kei Nishikori won the only previous meeting against Andrey Rublev in the 2018 Cincinnati Masters in straight sets and thus leads their head-to-head 1-0.
Andrey Rublev vs Kei Nishikori prediction
Andrey Rublev has been one of the most consistent players on tour in the past 18 months. The Russian rarely ever loses a match he is expected to win. At the same time, he has failed to produce a really spectacular run, unlike his Next Gen peers.
Rublev's game, while pretty solid, lacks variety and is easy to break down. The youngster often collapses when confronted by an opponent who has a solid defense and can extend rallies.
Kei Nishikori, meanwhile, has one of the most exciting games in tennis. He can blast winners from the baseline at will, but he can also play patient tennis and outlast opponents like Rublev.
Nishikori is a two-time champion at the Japan Open, which takes place at the same venue as the Olympics, and thus will be better accustomed to the conditions than his opponent.
Both players will feature in doubles matches on Saturday, which may have an effect on their meeting a day later.
Andrey Rublev starts as the favorite in this clash. But we expect Nishikori, fueled by the desire to perform well in his home country in what could be his last Olympics, to upset the fifth seed and eke out a win.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori to win in three sets