Rafael Nadal v Kei Nishikori Live Streaming, Prediction & Preview for ATP Barcelona Open 2021: Despite Tricky Opener, Nadal Expected To Coast Into Final Eight

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The King of Clay Rafael Nadal plays Japanese veteran Kei Nishikori in the third round of the 2021 Barcelona Open on Thursday, April 22. Get the live streaming options of this Rafael Nadal v Kei Nishikori  match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.

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Rafael Nadal v Kei Nishikori Head to Head

This will be the 14th meeting between the two players, with Nadal leading the head-to-head 11-2.

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Nadal Comes Through Difficult Opener

It has been a difficult start to 2021 for Rafa Nadal.  While a good portion of the season thus far has seen Nadal troubled with his back, pulling out of the ATP Cup, looking out of sorts in his quarter-final loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Aussie Open as well as pulling out of Rotterdam, Acapulco and Miami, one thought that  when it was time for the red dirt, he would be as unstoppable as can be.

Twenty- time major winner Nadal is in search for another French Open, i.e. his 14th which will put him ahead of Roger Federer’s total slam count of twenty titles.

In search of his 12th Monte Carlo tile, Nadal  looked nothing less than ominous at the start of last week in Monte Carlo,  dismantling Federico Delbonis and Grigor Dimitrov dropping five games in total. While both looked a little out of sorts, Nadal did not really let anyone settle into a groove of any sort either and was in cruise control from the get-go.

Into the quarter-finals, and with Novak Djokovic eliminated it seemed like it would take a superhuman effort to stop Nadal.

However, he ran into one of the players of the year thus far in Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals and that turned out to be one of the biggest wins of the young Russian’s career surprisingly defeating Nadal in a three-set tussle breaking the Spaniard six times during the match.

After an opening round bye here in Barcelona where he is again going for a record number of titles (aiming to better his own record of 11 titles here),  Nadal was up against little known Belarusian Ilya Ivashka and again struggled to get into any rhythm losing the first set 6-3.

Although he played way below his best, the Spaniard was able to use all his experience and navigate his way to a three set win, fully mindful that he will need to improve his level considerably as the clay season progresses.

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Nishikori Hoping Favored Clay  Gives Him Impetus

It has been a tough last 18 months for 2014 US Open finalist and ten time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori from Japan. While he has made comebacks from injury layoffs in the past, the last year has again seen a mix of injuries, a bout of Covid and poor form.

The ATP Cup saw losses in both his singles matches as Japan did not make it out of the group stages and the Australian Open saw a first round loss against in-form Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.

The  Rotterdam ATP 500 was a much better outing for Nishikori with victories against Next Gen stars Felix Auger- Aliassime and Alex de Minaur, which did wonders for his confidence, not having defeated a top twenty player in over a year prior to that. Although the Japanese was eliminated in the final eight by Croatian Borna Coric in two tight tiebreaks, it was the first sign of a Nishikori revival and he was hoping for a similar or better run in Marseille this week.

Mixed runs at Marseille, Dubai and Miami followed, as Nishikori began his clay season here in Barcelona where he has won the title twice, in 2014 and 2015, along with being runner-up to Nadal in 2016.

Nishikori has registered good wins already this week against Guido Pella and Cristain Garin and although the task will be considerably more uphill against Nadal, he will definitely believe he can provide a stiff challenge to the 11-time Barcelona ATP 500 title holder.

Nadal v Nishikori Prediction and Tip

Although Nadal has looked iffy last week and in his opener here, he has had the better of this match-up for the most part of their careers and can be expected to clinch this one, on clay again.

Expect a straight sets win for Nadal as he should look more comfortable against a very familiar opponent.

Tip: Nadal to win in straight sets: 5/6 (bet365)

The 2021 Barcelona Open will be played from April 19 to 25. You can watch & bet on these matches here. Get your latest premium tennis predictions here.

About Samir Talwar 727 Articles
Samir is a New York based Wall Street credit analyst, who is always ready to get into analytical discussions on the men’s tennis circuit. He loves his tennis & cricket.

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