TennisSection previews the 2021 Barcelona Open as Rafael Nadal (1) meets Kei Nishikori in the Third Round on Thursday, April 22nd 2021.
Will Kei Nishikori get a huge win in his career, especially as he looks to get back to his peak on the ATP Tour after a 2019 and 2020 season filled with injuries? Will Rafael Nadal build on his first round form which saw him play a very tight match as he was not at his best? Both players can definitely challenge in this match and turn it into a great battle in the Third Round of the 2021 Barcelona Open, but only one will. Who will it be?
Kei Nishikori came through a very tight 3-set encounter against a clay-court lover in Cristian Garin in the Second Round, winning 7-6(5)/4-6/6-1. Kei is just improving with every tournament that he plays in and it is great finally seeing him play at his best on the ATP Tour, even if it is not the same as he used to be. Kei Nishikori will want to build on his first two matches here at the 2021 Barcelona Open because he knows that this will help him a lot in the bigger tournaments in the coming weeks/month. Kei Nishikori will now face the toughest challenge on clay of them all in Rafael Nadal, but he knows he can put up a fight against the Spaniard from past matches.
Rafael Nadal had to come back from a set down in the Second Round against Ilya Ivashka, eventually winning the match in 3-sets 3-6/6-2/6-4. Rafael Nadal started off slowly and he had to adapt his game in the second set to ensure he did not fall victim to an upset. However, this match was quite good for Rafael Nadal to get under his belt in my opinion as he has seen what the weaknesses are in his game at the moment, and he will be able to build on them as he has always done when he was pushed to the edge on clay. Rafael Nadal will know he needs to improve, especially as he meets a tough opponent in Kei Nishikori in the Third Round.
Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori have met 13 times before, with Rafael Nadal leading the head to head 11-2. The last time they met was in the Quarter-finals of Roland Garros in 2019 where Nadal cruised in straight sets 6-1/6-1/6-3. Nishikori has never really been able to compete with Nadal on a clay court and has only ever found some success against Nadal on grass and hard courts. Here in the Third Round of the 2021 Barcelona Open, it is great to see two big names facing each other, but at the end of the day, I expect Rafael Nadal to improve his game and win this match in straight sets.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Two Sets.