Kei Nishikori Versus Richard Gasquet Montreal R2
Richard Gasquet and Kei Nishikori will play for the 11th time when they meet in the Montreal 2nd round on Wednesday. Gasquet leads the head to head 7-3.
The Richard Gasquet and Kei Nishikori rivalry goes all the way back to Tokyo 2008 on outdoor hard when Richard Gasquet defeated Nishikori for the loss of just three games.
Gasquet won the first six matches of the rivalry up to Paris-Bercy ’15, losing just one set, incidentally in Canada in ’13.
Nishikori then won two matches within a few weeks of each other, both in straights, on the Clay of Rome and Madrid, in 2016.
That added some spice to things when they met in Roland Garros last sixteen a few weeks later, but Gasquet resumed his domination, winning in four.
The last time they met was in Tokyo ’18 in the semis with Nishikori winning in straights.
Gasquet’s prevalence in this match up is much to do with his variety. Nishikori likes rhythm, which Gasquet does not give him.
The Frenchman also hits to the middle of the court when he plays aggressive baseliners like Nishikori, denying them pace and angle to elevate their groundstrokes.
Gasquet’s also able to defend well and put the Japanese under pressure which more often than not can result in Nishikori over hitting.
Gasquet has shown some nice form this week in Montreal defeating Benoit Paire in straights in the first round.
Could the 66th ranked Frenchman upset the 6th seeded Nishikori?
Nishikori is in one of his consistent best phases, he’s 27-11 this year, and his best surface is hard courts.
If he serves well and can find his range from the baseline early on, keeping Gasquet on the run and opening the court, and play with controlled aggression inside the baseline, he can win. But he will have to make things happen out there as Gasquet is not a baseliner who is going to play into his hands.
There have been no indications that Nishikori’s form has dropped off since reaching back to back quarter finals at the French Open and Wimbledon. But this is his first match back since SW19 and Gasquet is a tricky opponent for him so there’s always the chance Gasquet will get some chances and take them. If Nishikori is a little off and Gasquet is inspired, then this a good match up for the French man to get his season going.
In all likelihood, though, Gasquet still needs more match practice before he starts beating top tenners again (in his 9 wins this year, only one of them has been versus a player ranked in the top 50) and Nishikori wins this match in straights, and very entertaining ones, too.
Irrespective of the predictability of this match, there will be plenty of fans tuning in who have followed both these player’s careers for the last decade and, in Gasquet’s case, 15 years.
Both men are shot-makers with some real flair to their games, both execute their respective backhands, one handed for the French, double for the Japanese, at elite levels, and both are former Canadian Open finalists (though both in Toronto); factors which gives this second rounder a little edge when it comes to choosing which match up to watch in this Montreal second round.
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