In one of the more fascinating looking clashes in round two, Kei Nishikori will go up against one of the home favourites in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman doesn’t quite look ready to return to his best following injury but has previous in Paris, twice making the semi finals. It may be the case that the 34 year-old’s best days are now past him.
Tsonga was a first round loser in the two clay Masters 1000 tournaments but did get some wins under his belt in Lyon, making the quarter finals. A four set win in his opener was a good way to build on that for Tsonga, who entered the tournament outside the top 80. “It’s been difficult, because each time I want to do my best, I’m putting myself under pressure,” Tsonga said. “I need to revitalise things a bit more and to let my tennis play and enjoy each moment.”
Nishikori outclassed another Frenchman in round one, seeing off Quentin Halys in just under 2 hours. He was all over the Halys serve and broke 8 times overall. “I thought I played good tennis today. Started really well, winning two sets easy. I think in the third set he start playing a little bit different, playing little more aggressive.” Nishikori said on the win. “Last couple games I started playing better, using my forehand and playing aggressive again. Everything was good today. Very happy with my performance.”
Nishikori leads the head to head 5-3 but has lost the last two times they met in Paris. The most recent of those was at the Paris Masters but Tsonga was also victorious here in 2015, winning an epic five setter to make the semi finals. “The match was balanced. He came back, and I did a fantastic fifth set on the centre court with a fantastic crowd. So that’s the type of matches you enjoy, because everything is present. You have a great player in front of you. You play your best tennis. You have a crowd cheering you. And it’s the best scenario you can have in Roland Garros.” he recalled. It may be unlikely that Tsonga reaches that level but if he is going to ignite that spark anywhere, it will be on Philippe Chatrier.
Prediction – Kei Nishikori in 4 sets