Novak Djokovic Vs Kei Nishikori Australian Open Quarter Final Preview
Australian Open men’s quarter-final, Novak Djokovic Vs Kei Nishikori
Novak Djokovic has looked anything but the 2019 men’s singles champion in waiting on his way to his quarter final meeting with Kei Nishikori.
But, here he is again, in his 10th Australian Open quarter final, beating Kreuger, Tsonga, Shapovalov and Medvedev to get there.
This is his first appearance in the last eight since 2016. In that match he faced Kei Nishikori and defeated him in straight sets, the Japanese in form and promising a real contest. Djokovic saw that coming and played accordingly, reducing Nishikori to an error strewn mess.
Nishikori’s two wins have been pretty big ones, though. The Japanese caught the Serbian at the tail end of his all time great 2011 season and defeated him in Basel in three sets and beat him in the US Open quarters ’14 when the Serbian had just started finding his Grand slam form again, coming off a Wimbledon win.
Nishikori at his hard court heights is quite the sight, and too much to take for the majority of the tour. The aggression, the deep and penetrating ground strokes, the changes of direction and shot-making, those strengths and his returning compensating for his service.
That weak service game and his tendency to over hit in big matches against more wily base-liners with the patients of saints hellbent like devils on driving you out of your mind have got in the way of the Japanese winning a Grand slam. If two glaring flaws were not enough, there’s also his fragile body and his tendency to get involved in long grueling matches which often leave him spent by the time he gets to a match in which he needs all the energy he can muster.
And this match versus Djokovic will be one of those matches.
Those weaknesses will once again hurt him versus Novak Djokovic this Australian Open. After all, who better to undo them than Novak Djokovic? That’s what Djokovic does, and this time he won’t have to think too hard about which weakness to pick on.
Give Djokovic a man coming off the back of a five hour five minute match so emotional it reduced Nishikori’s opponent, the usually placid Pablo Carreno Busta, to an outburst of pure fury and left his own coach Michael Chang, one of the tour’s greatest ever competitors, in tears of appreciation, and Djokovic will give that man plenty of running to do, making him play one long drawn out game after the other until the leg and mind can do no more.
Once his opponent is mentally and physically done, Novak will do as he pleases: keep rallying and get some good rhythm going; be aggressive and finish the points early to leave him fresh for the semis; experiment with some shot-making and woo the crowd. Whatever he likes because Djokovic doesn’t just have plan B or C; he’s got plan A-Z.
He won’t peak, though, unless of course that’s what Nishiori ends up doing.
That’s for the final and the in-form Nadal.
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