Normally by this stage of a tournament, Kei Nishikori has run himself into the ground by playing too much tennis.
He looked to be heading along a similar path this tournament, until he got a stroke of good fortune in Henri Laaksonen retiring after a set.
It was a close set against Laaksonen, however things can be a little more nervewracking when you know the player at the other end of the court is having some injury concerns (Laaksonen had an early MTO). He overcame a *4-5 0/30 deficit to take the first set (and match) 7-5. He produced 50+ winners against Giannessi and and Khachanov, and as I mentioned above, limiting his time on court in round 3 is crucial here, having now only played one set in 4 days.
Alexander Zverev dropped 2 sets to Otte, and hasn’t dropped a set since. That isn’t to say he has been comfortable in those last two matches. He trailed a break in 2 sets against Safiullin, and was in deep trouble in set 2 against Djere, who had triple set point on his own serve. I don’t think he is looking as dominant on court as his results suggest, and appears to be a little short in the odds today.
I am happy to look away from the recent meeting in Madrid, where the altitude helped Zverev (as did the form of Nishikor at the time). Their match in Rome is a little more interesting. It was closer than the 4-6 6-3 6-4 scoreline, and based off the tennis I saw that day, and the fact Nishikori has looked more comfortable on the clay as the season has progressed, and the energy conservation that came with his 3rd round match, I cannot let Nishikori go around at odds north of $5.50 today.
In an empty stadium in the night session conditions, I am comfortable in backing Nishikori at long odds.
2.5 units Nishikori to defeat Zverev at $5.70 at Betfair minus commission
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