While the majority of the third round matches on the men’s side of the draw ended in straight sets on Saturday, the two players who contested four-set matches will now be matched up against each other. Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer will cross paths once again to determine who will advance to the final eight in Melbourne. Of their nine previous meetings, Nishikori holds a 6-3 lead in the head-to-head series and has won their last four consecutive encounters.
After dropping the opening set in a tiebreaker to Steve Johnson, Kei Nishikori found his form and went on to drop just six games in the next three sets to plod his way into the fourth round of the tournament. Nishikori struck 49 winners, 15 aces and won 74% of his first service points to defeat the American in 2 hours and 29 minutes.
“He was playing aggressive, hitting really deep, good serves. I really couldn’t do anything. You know, the tiebreak is always, you know, tight points. I just couldn’t go hit through. I didn’t want to risk it too much. So that’s why I couldn’t get the tiebreak. But, I don’t know, after playing first set, I started feeling little bit, not relaxed, but no pressure. I start thinking to just go for everything.”
Also faced with a difficult opponent, David Ferrer needed four sets to dispatch France’s Gilles Simon and advance in the tournament. He eventually closed out the match 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(4). Ferrer hit 36 winners, converted 9 break points and won 64% of his first service points to close out the match in over 3 hours and 40 minutes of court time.
This is set to be the 10th time that Nishikori and Ferrer cross paths on the tour. With the Japanese No. 1’s 6-3 lead in the series, as well as his four-match win streak against the Spanaird throughout 2014, it will be interesting to see if Ferrer is capable of rebounding with a win, particularly since e defeated Nishikori at this Grand Slam event in the same round two years ago.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori in Five Sets