Following their reent encounter in the fourth round of the Wimbledon Championships, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori are scheduled to meet once again in the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament, this time in New York. This is the fourth time these two competitors will meet on the professional circuit, with Nishikori leading the head-to-head series 2-1.
While Raonic reached the fourth round in straight sets, it was far from an easy encounter, as the scoreline will suggest. The Canadian defeated Victor Estrella Burgos, the oldest player to ever make his US Open main draw debut, 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 7-6(3) victory in two hours and 43 minutes.
“It was difficult,” said Raonic. “He’s playing well. He’s playing with a lot of inspiration. It was a lot of fun, the atmosphere, out there. I’m glad that I was able to play well in the important moments. It’s good to put myself in this position in the fourth round to go further in this tournament and give myself an opportunity to play better. I believe I can play better.
The sixth seed is aware that he will need to play a crisper game against Nishikori, who will punish him at any given opportunity.
“I’ve got to clean up a few things [against Nishikori]. I’ve got to put out a certain level if I want to have opportunities. And then hopefully when those opportunities do arise, I can make the most of them.”
While the summer has been a questionable period for Nishikori, the Japanese No. 1 managed to reach the fourth round of the US Open for the first time since his tournament debut in 2008, which is quite an achievement. He defeated Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3, striking 25 winners to close out the match in 1 hour and 52 minutes.
Of all his concerns regarding the upcoming match against Raonic, Nishikori just hopes he can get his racquet on the ball more when the Canadian is serving.
“Hopefully I can get more returns in, because in the last match, he was hitting so many aces and hitting good serves. I couldn’t do anything in my return games. For sure it’s going to be a different game here. Still, it’s a fast court here. It’s going to be tough to get his serve. But I have been playing well. I’m going to try to focus on my service games and try to play another good match.”
While Nishikori was once undefeated in this head-to-head series, the Canadian has been playing some fantastic tennis to earn himself a recent win over Nishikori in the fourth round of the Wimbledon Championships and will also serve as the favourite in this upcoming encounter.
Prediction: Milos Raonic in Five Sets