For the first time in over three years, Kei Nishikori and Paul-Henri Mathieu will cross paths on the professional circuit. Their last meeting took place back in 2012 and the gap between matches should add to the overall intrigue of the opening round French Open contest. Overall, this will serve as a rubber match between the two competitors, as they split their previous two meetings on the tour for a 1-1 head-to-head record.
One of the main forces to be reckoned with this coming fortnight in Paris is Kei Nishikori. The Japanese No. 1 has had a strong run during the lead-up to Roland Garros, and was even able to complete a successful title defense in Barcelona. He followed up with a quarter-final showing in Madrid, where he lost to the soon-to-be champion Andy Murray, before suffering a quarter-final exit to Novak Djokovic in Rome the following week. Given that his only two losses on clay this season came against two of the tournament favourites, Nishikori will come into the event with some significant momentum.
Standing on the opposite side of the net will be Paul-Henri Mathieu, who failed to qualify for any of the clay court main draws on the ATP World Tour but still managed to reach the final of the Aix En Provence Challenger before losing to Robin Haase. He most recently retired in the second round of the Bordeaux Challenger.
This is set to be the third time that Nishikori and Mathieu will cross paths on the professional tour, with the head-to-head series tied at 1-1. The rubber match comes over three years past their most recent encounter on the tour. Interestingly enough, Nishikori’s win took place on clay, which should add to his advantages against Mathieu. In the end, it should lead to a straight sets win for Kei.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori in Straight Sets
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