Following contrasting trajectories in their opening two matches in their respective Barclays World Tour Finals debuts, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic will cross paths in the final round robin clash to determine whether the Japanese No. 1 will remain in the running for a semi-final berth in London. This marks their fourth meeting in 2014, with Kei leading the overall head-to-head series 3-1.
After winning his WTF debut against Andy Murray, Nishikori was unable to sustain the momentum and was eventually downed by Roger Federer in a fairly straightforward encounter on Tuesday. The fourth seed was unable to find his best tennis on this occasion and lost to the six-time champion 6-3, 6-2. While Nishikori had strapping placed on his wrist during the match, he revealed that he was simply unable to get a foot in on Roger’s service games.
“He didn’t give me a chance to come back,” said Nishikori. “I didn’t play really bad. “I never feel that he’s 33 right now. He still looks young and plays amazing tennis.”
Milos Raonic, however, was not as lucky as his upcoming opponent. Faced with the task of toppling Federer for a second time in two weeks, Raonic faltered and was unable to replicate his efforts. His second encounter was against another Grand Slam champion in Andy Murray, who allowed for a slightly more competitive match but still edged out the win in straight sets.
The Canadian lost to the fifth seed 6-3, 7-5 to join Marin Cilic with an 0-2 record at the event.
“I haven’t served well,” said Raonic. “I’ve been too passive on the court. I’ve been trying to beat the two guys playing their tennis, and that’s not going to work for me.”
This marks the fifth time that Nishikori and Raonic will meet on the professional tour, and the fourth time so far this season. Nishikori leads both the overall series (3-1) and the annual series (2-1), with Raonic’s win taking place in his breakthrough run at the Wimbledon Championships earlier in the season. Based on their respective performances so far this week in London, Nishikori should hold the advantage.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori in Three Sets