One top 10 player who doesn’t have a win against Rafael Nadal during his career is Kei Nishikori. The Japanese star is having a good couple of weeks on the tour however despite winning the title in Washington last week I still don’t think we have seen his best tennis in this period of time and this is a massive opportunity to record his first win against the former world number one. Nadal has improved since Roland Garros a couple of months ago but is still short of his very best on the tour.
Nadal leads the head to head against Kei at 7-0 something Kei will want to change having only taken 2 sets off the Spaniard in 7 meetings but their last two meetings have been competitive in Australia and Madrid before Kei had to withdraw in the final last year.
When you play against Nadal one thing which is a must is getting depth on the court to push him back, if you don’t get this then the match could quite easily turn into a training session for Nadal as he is a playing who thrives off having time especially in the backhand corner.
When you attack Nadal you have to do it with a purpose. No one really wants to continuously try and attack the forehand of Nadal however you have to make sure when attack the backhand you put pace and depth on the ball otherwise if he gets the chance Nadal will run around the backhand to play a forehand which gives him so many options.
I think the best way to attack the backhand corner is to go with pace and spin out wide pushing Nadal away from the court (as shown by the green box) and forcing him to play a backhand however what you don’t want to do is play a slow paced ball which sits towards the middle of the backhand corner box (red box) to give Nadal time.
Since last year when Kei had his big breakthrough into the top 10 and cemented his place there I don’t think he has improved his game at all in my opinion and also despite this title win in Washington I don’t he has been playing at his very best.
Kei likes to play a sort of a tennis where he isn’t afraid to get involved in baseline tennis against opponents however against quality opponents like Nadal, Murray, Djokovic, Federer, Wawrinka etc… I don’t think he has the cutting edge like these players do to finish rallies.
Despite Nadal still not playing his very best tennis I see him winning in two sets against Nishikori or could Kei finally get his win over Nadal?