After downing a local favourite in his first match at the 2015 edition of the Indian Wells Masters event, Kei Nishikori is through to the third round, where he will encounter Spain’s Fernando Verdasco for the third time on the professional tour. The Japanese No. 1 is yet to notch his first win against Verdasco, who compiled a 2-0 lead in the head to head series between 2011-12.
Fifth seed Kei Nishikori reached the third round of the tournament with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against American Ryan Harrison. He withstood five aces and won 63% of his first service points to close out the match in one hour and 27 minutes.
“The first match is always tough,” said Nishikori. “But there were so many ups and downs in the first set. Almost every game we couldn’t hold serve, but we also returned well. That’s why there were a lot of breaks.
“The second set I was playing an almost perfect game. I was hitting good serves. No break points. I think I didn’t face any break points. Luckily I got the first break, so it was easier mentally to hit a lot of good shots. But I’m really happy to win today and I’m looking forward to playing the next round.”
Awaiting Nishikori in the third round is Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who reached that stage of the tournament with a 6-2, 7-6(3) win over qualifier James Duckworth. While the second set was a competitive affair, Verdasco faced no break points on serve and finished the match in one hour and 18 minutes.
This marks the third time that these two competitors will cross paths on the ATP World Tour, with Verdasco leading the series 2-0. While he is yet to lose a match to the Japanese No. 1, they have not played a match together in over three years, which renders the h2h useless. Given the changes over that time, it would not be surprising if Nishikori finally notches that elusive win over Verdasco.
Prediction: Kei NIshikori in Three Sets