After both lost their opening rubber comprehensively in the Stan Smith group, Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych face off in a loser gets eliminated clash. Nishikori was outclassed by the World No.1 Novak Djokovic, winning just two games while Berdych fared better against Roger Federer, losing 6-4 6-2.
Despite remaining in the top 10 for five and a half years, Berdych has struggled to make an impact at the very top of the game. The Wimbledon final that saw him move into the top 10 is his only grand slam final and he has made just three semi finals in that time period. He has multiple wins against many of the competitors at this year’s event but his 2-20 record against Novak Djokovic sticks out like a sore thumb.
To have any chance against the very best, Berdych has to serve well and that is one thing he certainly did not do against Roger Federer, serving just 44% and it told as his second serve was punished. He did manage a first set break but was ineffective in the second set on return, winning just four points on return and only one on Federer’s first serve.
There’s no doubt Djokovic is dominant in all aspects of the game right now but the court here suits him and he took very little time to see off Nishikori in the opener on Sunday 6-1 6-1. Winning just 43% of his service points, Nishikori was doomed from the start and there was no surprise that Djokovic was off the court in just over an hour.
Berdych should have less problems hitting through the massively slow court at the O2 Arena and with question marks over Nishikori’s fitness, there should be no better opportunity for Berdych to reduce to deficit in the head to head to 2-3. It will be the first meeting between them in three years and Nishikori’s first as a top 10 player.
Prediction – Berdych in straight sets