Kei Nishikori last week ended in Buenos Aires with defeat to Alexandar Dolgopolov in the final and from Argentina to Brazil the former US Open finalist is now out after losing his match of the tournament in Rio against home favour Thomasz Bellucci.
The Brazilian has the ability to produce some great wins and the surface and his skill just helps magnify that as he pulled off the biggest win of his career but for Kei it is back to the drawing board in what could be seen as a pivotal year for the Japanese number one who’s performance in the second set was described as ‘lost’.
First of all we are going to jump back in time to the US Open last year after his defeat to Stan Wawrinka and I wrote this piece…
One word I used a lot during the piece was ‘panic’ as we saw this bizarre attempt at serve and volley which left him stranded in the centre of the court and we’ve seen it again.
This shot is a flat serve out wide which Bellucci gets good contact on the return and even before the ball is on it’s way back to Kei he looks lost out there. He had two attempts to put this ball away for a winner and messed it up before Bellucci very cleverly sliced the ball past him. We saw this again on match point, Kei went in on the net and ended up hitting the ball wide and losing.
Another aspect which I picked up is the backhand. Kei’s backhand has two levels; brilliant or flat. We saw a mixture of both in the match but the flat one I put it down to a late reaction forcing these errors.
Just have a look at Kei’s body as he goes to hit the ball. His body is still and there is little rotation in the body whilst moving towards the backhand. Also his feet, he looks like he is playing a game of stuck in the mud he only drags his left foot up which then put’s more empthasis on the standing leg and to generate an effective shot which little rotation or follow through is very difficult and he ended up hitting the net.
There were quite a few faults in Kei’s game and these are things as he gets into the latter stages of his career he needs to work on better but credit to Bellucci who was firing off all cylinders! The flat backhand cross court put Kei on the back foot too many times for his liking and the forehand flicked down the line was just beautiful to watch.