Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori will open singles play in their group on Monday afternoon in their third meeting of the year. They are currently 1-1 but Wawrinka will be much happier with his victory in the US Open semi final on his way to the third slam title of his career.
Wawrinka has ended the season poorly with two successive losses indoors to players that he should be winning in fairly routine fashion against. Nothing can put a dampener on the Swiss’ season after picking up the US Open but he has failed to push on. Losses to Mischa Zverev and Jan Lennard Struff in Basel and Paris respectively don’t bode well although he did make the final in St Petersburg a few weeks earlier, losing to Alexander Zverev in three sets.
Nishikori will be disappointed in the way his regular season ended, with a three set loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after winning the first 6-0 against the Frenchman. He has however remained consistent throughout the season, finally hitting the top 5 once more after his final loss in Basel. He does however still have an indoor title to his name although Memphis is far from a strong field as his opponent in the final – Taylor Fritz – shows.
Nishikori was favoured to win the last match against Stan at the US Open, coming off his stunning comeback against Andy Murray in the previous round. However, he was caught on a bad day and it was never really competitive after an interesting first two sets. This will be their first indoor meeting with all but one of the others coming on outdoor hard. With Murray expected to go 3-0, it feels like the loser will have a tough time qualifying here so this one will be vital.
Prediction – Stan Wawrinka in three sets