Rogers Cup Final Preview Novak Djokovic Versus Kei Nishikori


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Novak Djokovic has not been playing his best tennis at the Rogers Cup this week, but that has not stopped him making big ATP finals before and this week is no different.

Neither Tomas Berdych or Gael Monfils were able to put another dent into Djokovic’s 2016 despite having their opportunities, particularly Berdych who held 3 set points in the first set tiebreaker, so how will Nishikori do if he gets his chances in the final?

Nishikori has not had to produce his best tennis this Rogers Cup either, but not peaking yet should work in his favor as peaking in the final versus Novak Djokovic, playing for his 30th ATP 1000 win, is when to do it.

Peaking in the final versus Djokovic, however, is hard to time, the Serbian being the world No.1 at negating his opponent’s strengths, and breaking them down no matter now well they have been playing going into the match.

Nishikori lost his last ATP 1000 final (this is his third) in Miami, to Djokovic as the Serbian eased through for a straight sets win, but the surface in Toronto is faster than Miami which suits Nishikori’s game better. The Rogers Cup third seed has as aggressive a baseline game as Djokovic and can, on his day, as he did at the 2014 US Open, outplay him from the back of the court. That, however has only happened all the way through a match on two occasions, with Djokovic dominating their head to head 9-2 as his greater defense and stamina demands too much aggression from the Japanese who stops out-hitting and over-hits, instead.

Djokovic goes into the final having out witted another master of the baseline game, a mastery achieved with a very different style, Gael Monfils. Courtesy of Monfils, the Serbian’s back-court game is well tested after a straight sets defeat of the Frenchman which may prove to be the match that finally got Djokovic’s game going this US hard court swing.

The Serbian needs it, too. His early Wimbledon loss to Sam Querrey has opened the door to Andy Murray a little when it comes to the world No.1 ranking, and with Cincinnati and the US Open coming up there is a good chance, if Djokovic cannot get himself into the kind of fast hard court form that has won him two US Opens and four Dubai titles, that door could open up large enough for Murray to squeeze through.

That kind of challenge is exactly what Djokovic needs at this stage of his career, a stage which sees him achieving the final feats missing from his resume, to keep him motivated. With Nishikori one of the players chasing Djokovic and next in line to all the trophies the Serb has been hoarding, this Rogers Cup final is timed perfectly for the world No.1 to let his rivals know he is not going anywhere and that they still have very far to go.

Prediction: Djokovic to win in straights, one close set, the other one straightforward.


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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.

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