By Yousuf A. Khan
Kei Nishikori is the first Japanese man in 82 years to make it through to the French Open quarterfinals. Yet, old and irrelevant records aren’t the only things Nishikori is achieving.
Over the course of an entire week, Nishkori hasn’t dropped a single set against two tough opponents: home favorite Mathieu, and clay court specialist Bellucci (who on a good day, can match Djokovic and Nadal). After that, his 3rd round opponent withdrew before the match. His fourth round opponent was an inexperienced Gabashvili, who barely made a dent in the entire match (Nishikori won that match 6-3, 6-4, 6-2).
Besides his spell of good form, the 25 year old super star has only had to play 3 matches in seven days to make it to the quarterfinals. In addition, he would only have to win three more matches in the course of seven days to win the French Open. His quarterfinal opponent is an inconsistent but flashy Tsonga (whom Nishikori leads 4-1).
His only real trouble begins at the semifinals, where the only notable player he could face would be Roger Federer. Of their last five matches, Nishikori has taken two (one on clay, the other on the slow courts of Miami). In plain words, Nishikori can beat Federer on a slow surface (thats if Federer even makes it to the semifinals). If he makes it all the way to the finals, he would most likely play Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic.
Nishikori nearly beat Nadal at the Mutua Madrid Masters at 2014 before his back gave out, forcing him to retire. The Japanese sensation lost in 3 tight sets against Djokovic just over a week ago at Rome. Can the 5’10” Matsue native channel his inner Michael Chang and be a spoiler?
Expect big things from the World No. 5 to come.
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