Citi Open Preview – Marin Cilic v Kei Nishikori

For the ninth time in their careers Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic will do battle on the ATP tour with Kei Nishikori leading the head to head 5-3 however it is Marin Cilic who won the important won defeating Kei in the US Open final 6-3 6-3 6-3 last year and this is their first meeting since the final in New York.

Getting to semi-finals is what you would expect from the two however I wouldn’t say they have performed to a level this week or recently on the tour where I would say they can challenge for this big titles over the next month or so. In all honesty at the end of last season the talk was about the upcoming talents of Cilic, Nishikori, Raonic and Dimitrov and it hasn’t really happened as none of these players in my opinion have improved over the last 9 months.

I expect it to be a very interesting match. Cilic is obviously a threat via his serve and Nishikori has to find a way to impose himself on the Cilic service game like he did against Sam Groth in the previous round however he won’t get as many cheap points as he did against Groth. Nishikori has played quite a defensive game at times this week but Cilic is powerful from the baseline so maybe a more pro-active game might benefit Kei more.

At the same time Cilic has struggled to break down his opponents winning his last two matches against Querrey and Zvereve 7-6 7-6 7-5 7-6. To win those three tie-break is great but for a player of his quality and wanting to be a consistent top 10 player he should be trying to finish off some matches a bit easier. For example he led Zverev 7-5 3-1 but was taken to a tie-break by the German. If Nishikori can return serve well I do think he is favourite in baseline rallies with his excellent defensive skills but like I said earlier on in the piece Nishikori has to look forward as well otherwise holding serve might be a bit of a training exercise for him.

I can’t really pick a winner in this one. I haven’t been impressed by either player this week but one of them will be in the final. Nishikori has defended well and has benefited from a lot of errors but will he get the same error count from Cilic I doubt it. I want to see both players play their very best, if both can get to that level then I believe Kei will win but he can’t let Cilic get comfortably on serve.


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