Clay court specialists and veterans Kei Nishikori of Japan, and Albert Ramos-Vinalos of Spain meet in the first round of the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome on Monday, September 14. The match timing will be decided soon. Get the live streaming options of this Kei Nishikori v Albert Ramos-Vinalos match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Kei Nishikori v Albert Ramos-Vinalos Head-To-Head
This will be the sixth meeting between the two players. Nishikori convincingly leads the head-to-head 4-1. Their last meeting was at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where Nishikori won the match in straight sets. The Spaniard’s only win against Nishikori was in 2013, in Barcelona.
Nishikori Seeking Return To Form After Covid Recovery
Thirty-year-old Kei Nishikori has been on the tour for the last decade and had a consistent career, interspersed with unfortunate and ill-timed injury lay-offs. Once ranked as high as number four in the world in 2015, the Japanese has been to the quarter-finals of Grand slams ten times, but only once been a finalist, at the 2014 US Open.
Returning from an injury lay-off that saw him drop in the rankings, the Japanese had a good second half of 2018 and 2019, which saw him qualify for the year-end ATP finals in 2018 and make the quarter-finals of the Australian and French Opens, as well as Wimbledon, in 2019.
Back in the top ten of the world rankings, Nishikori looked on course for another ATP year- end entry at the O2 arena in London, in 2019. However an elbow injury that bothered him at the US Open, lingered and ended his 2019 season prematurely.
Due to continued injury concerns, Nishikori pulled of the ATP Cup and Australian Open at the start of 2020, and seemed to continue to opt out of tournaments going into the Indian Wells Masters 1000 in March, before the pandemic hit.
Having recovered from injuries and gearing up to return to the tour after the hiatus, the former world number four was hit by Covid-19 and out for the US hard court tournaments. Nishikori returned to the tour this week at the ATP 250 in Kitzbuhel but lost the opener to young Miomir Kecmanovic after being up a set.
Generally comfortable on the slower surfaces, Nishikori will be looking to regain lost form over the next two weeks on clay, prior to the French Open at the end of the month.
Ramos-Vinalos Ever Ready for Clay Season
A clay-court specialist, Ramos-Vinolas’ career-best showing came at the Monte-Carlo Masters where he reached the final in 2017. That helped him climb up to 17th in the world, after having made the quarterfinals of the French Open the previous year. Despite being a natural on clay, Ramos-Vinolas has not been able to recreate that kind of form again, with a quarterfinal at the 2017 Shanghai Masters being his best showing.
Ramos-Vinolas’ form in recent times has lacked consistency and he has been able to break back into the top 30 of the ATP rankings for a few seasons now. Since exiting the 2018 French Open in the round of 32, the Spaniard has been unable to win any matches at the majors and failed to consolidate in smaller ATP tournaments.
After an unimpressive start to the season, Ramos-Vinalos looked in better touch during the February Latin American clay swing this year, but since his return to the tour after the pandemic break, he has been unable to perform at any level that makes him a concern for his opponents.
Back on his favorite surface and up again a slightly tentative Nishikori, the Spaniard will be looking to make inroads in what is a shortened clay court swing this year.
Nishikori v Ramos-Vinalos Prediction & Tip
Although both players are on their favored surface, none are in the sort of form they would like to have been. While Ramos-Vinalos will hope that the affinity for the clay courts will automatically improve the level of his game,a rusty Nishikori will be looking for as much match practice as possible before the French Open.
An even contest on the cards; the more accredited Nishikori to prevail in three sets.
Tip: Nishikori to win in three sets: 3/1 (bet365)