WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up French Open tips for a second-round showdown between Karen Khachanov and Kei Nishikori.
21:00 (AEST), Wed 2nd Jun @ Roland Garros, Paris
History: Played 5: Nishikori 3 V Khachanov 2
Last meeting: Madrid Masters, 2021 (R64): Nishikori d Khachanov 6-7 6-2 6-2
Final Thoughts: High-profile players Karen Khachanov and Kei Nishikori square in the French Open’s second round in an intriguing contrast of styles.
The towering, big-serving Khachanov is the 23rd seed. He made short work of Jiri Vesely in the first round, winning 6-1 6-2 6-3 and holding serve throughout.
The tenacious and durable Nishikori – currently ranked 49th in the world – bases his game on powerful, consistent groundstrokes and wearing his opponents down. The 31-year-old is coming off a stern test from qualifier Alessandro Giannessi, finally prevailing in five sets.
Nishikori boasts a 3-2 head-to-head record against Khachanov. The pair met last month in Madrid, with Nishikori coming from a set down to claim their first meeting on clay. Nishikori also won their only previous Grand Slam encounter – a second-round four-setter at the 2016 US Open.
Rivals thrive at Roland Garros
A US Open finalist in 2014, Nishikori reached the French Open quarter-finals three times (2015, 2017, 2019). He has produced some impressive results on the recent clay swing, including pushing Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev to three sets in losses at the Barcelona Open and Rome Masters respectively.
Khachanov is more comfortable on hard courts, but the French Open has proved his most fruitful Grand Slam event. The 25-year-old reached his sole Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros in 2019 and made it to the fourth round in each of his three other French Open forays. His only French Open losses were against players seeded fourth or higher.
After first-up exits in Madrid and Rome, Khachanov enjoyed a confidence-boosting run to the Lyon Open semis last month.
Khachanov looked easily the better of the two in the first round. Nishikori has the game to trouble the Russian, but how much gas does he have in the tank after his first-round marathon?
FRENCH OPEN TIPS
|Federico Delbonis V Pablo Andujar||Result – Andujar @ $2.31|
|Fabio Fognini V Marton Fucsovics||Games Handicap – Fognini -2.5 @ $1.90|
|Henri Laaksonen V Roberto Bautista Agut||Total Games – Over 30.5 @ $1.95|