TennisSection previews the 2021 Madrid Open as Kei Nishikori meets Karen Khachanov in the First Round on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021.
Will Karen Khachanov show us some amazing tennis to get his 2021 season back on track after having struggled with form over the last month or so? Will Kei Nishikori continue to improve with every match he plays on the ATP Tour this year as he looks to get closer and closer to his best level? This is going to be an extremely tight match between both players, but only one will make their way to the Second Round. Who will it be?
Karen Khachanov will be looking to have a better week at a clay court tournament here at the 2021 Madrid Open, after having gone 1-2 in his 3 matches on clay this year. Karen Khachanov started the year off so strongly, showing some strong results on hard court surfaces. However, the Russian has not found his feet on the clay. Karen Khachanov is a player who plays well when he is winning, but when he is losing, it is hard for him to get his level up to come back. Karen needs to find the required consistency in his game if he is to actually stay with the rest of the Russian pack, but meeting the likes of Kei Nishikori in the First Round does not help his cause.
Kei Nishikori was superb at the 2021 Barcelona Open a couple weeks ago, reaching the Third Round where he met Rafael Nadal, and he was able to win a set comfortably against the eventual Champion. Kei Nishikori is improving with every match that he plays, and it is great to see him back near his best level because he brings so much talent to the court every match. Kei Nishikori knows that he will have to be at his best right from the start here at the 2021 Madrid Open, especially as he’s meeting Karen Khachanov in the First Round, but I am sure he will be confident in his ability to get the job done.
Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov have met 4 times before, with the head to head tied at 2-2. The last time they met was at the 2018 Vienna Open where Kei Nishikori won in straight sets 6-2/6-2. Since then, Karen Khachanov’s level had dropped significantly as 2018 was his best season. Kei Nishikori has also had his struggles, but he is on a much better trajectory to get back to his peak. Here in the First Round of the 2021 Madrid Open, I expect a tight match, but I also expect the experience of Kei Nishikori to prevail.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Kei Nishikori to Win.