2021 Mutua Madrid Open: Kei Nishikori vs Alexander Zverev; preview, head-to-head record, and prediction

Joshua Rogers May 4, 2021
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Kei Nishikori faces Alexander Zverev at the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday. Here’s everything you need to know about the Round of 32 match-up, including their head-to-head record and match prediction.

The 2021 Madrid Open is in full-swing, with several big names set to enter the main draw in the next round.

Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev all received byes in the first round of the tournament, and are looking to make their mark in the Round of 32.

World no.6 Zverev faces former world no. 4 Kei Nishikori on Wednesday in what looks to be the match of the round.

Here’s what to expect.

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Nishikori vs Zverev: Match details

Match: Kei Nishikori vs Alexander Zverev (5)

Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021

Round: Second Round (Round of 32)

Start date: 5 May 2021 

Start time: After 10:00am BST

Location: Madrid, Spain

Surface: Clay

Event: ATP Tour Masters 1000

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Match preview

In the first round in Madrid, world no. 43 Kei Nishikori had to work hard to overcome Karen Khachanov.

The Japanese star bounced back from missing out on two set points in the first set, overcoming his Russian opponent 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 18 minutes on Manolo Santana Stadium.

The 2014 Madrid finalist said after the match, “I was feeling much better after the first set.”

“I think I was a little bit tight and a little too conservative maybe. I think I could [have been] a little more aggressive. So I tried to step in a little bit more than the first set. Then everything started working well.”

Nishikori, who could not convert two set points at 6/4 in the first set tie-break, hit 24 winners, and converted 6/7 break points.

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Alexander Zverev, who won the Madrid Masters in 2018, is seeded at No.5 in the main draw and received a first round bye at the tournament.

Just a few days ago at the Munich Open, Zverev suffered a disappointing loss to Ilya Ivashka in the quarterfinals.

Zverev served for the match against Ivashka at 5-4 in the second set but couldn’t convert.

The Belarussian qualifier went on to win the match 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3.

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Nishikori Zverev: head-to-head record

Kei Nishikori and Alexander have faced off three times in their careers.

Zverev leads Nishikori 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.

In their previous meeting on clay, Nishikori beat Zverev at the 2018 Monte Carlo Masters.

Their most recent battle came in 2018 at the Washington Open, which defending champion Zverev came through 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Zverev went on to win the tournament again, defeating Australian Alex de Minaur in the final, 6–2, 6–4.

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Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Prediction

Zverev, ranked at No. 6 in the world, will be the favourite heading into the match.

The German will want to put together a strong run of results before heading to Roland Garros at the end of the month. He is also coming back from a right elbow injury in recent weeks.

The match will no doubt be won at the baseline, where Zverev will try to assert his dominance with powerful groundstrokes.

Zverev struggled with his first serve percentage (55%) in his previous match against Ivashka, and recorded 14 double faults. Nishikori will no doubt look to exploit this with his accurate returns should the German’s struggles continue.

If the Japanese star can pounce on Zverev’s second serve, he stands a decent chance of beating him.

Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.