Kei Nishikori and Sam Querrey meet for the second time in the last fortnight when they square off for a quarter-final spot in Acapulco on Wednesday.
Watch and bet on Kei Nishikori v Sam Querrey Abierto Mexicano Telcel tennis live from Acapulco at 365. Their second round showdown gets underway at 8.00pm local time on Wednesday (2.00am GMT Thursday).
Nishikori defeated Querrey 3-6 6-3 6-3 in the Memphis Open semi-finals two weeks ago on his way to a historic fourth straight title at the tournament. His victory in Memphis meant Nishikori joined Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the only active players to win four consecutive titles at a single tournament.
The new World No. 6 got his 2016 Abierto Mexicano Telcel campaign off to flying start in his opening round match, with Nishikori easing past Dutch qualifier Thiemo de Bakker 6-0 6-3 in less than an hour. After reaching the final in Acapulco last year (lost to Ferrer), Nishikori is hoping to go one step further in the glamorous coastal resort city this season. The most successful Japanese player in history, Nishikori believes he’s a better player than he was last year.
“I’ve been playing good tennis in Australia and won Memphis again – four years in a row, that’s something I’ve never done before,” Nishikori said.
“That’s given me a lot more confidence and I think I’m a little more patient and more consistent. I’m still being aggressive, too, so I’m pretty sure I’m better than last year.”
It remains to be seen if Nishikori can better his previous career-high ranking of No. 4, achieved in 2015, this year. It wasn’t the best start to the season for the 26-year-old, winning only one match in Brisbane before falling to Bernard Tomic. Nishikori then advanced to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the second straight year, only to lose to Novak Djokovic in a disappointing straight sets performance. Nishikori regained some form in Memphis to capture his fourth successive title there, but considering his opponents on route to the title - two players ranked outside the top 100 in Ryan Harrison and Taylor Fritz, along with World No. 93 Mikhail Kukushkin - it’s hard to take anything meaningful out of that week form-wise.
In fact, it was World No. 58 Sam Querrey (now ranked at 43), that pushed Nishikori the furthest that week in Memphis, and the American will be looking to beat his higher-ranked rival for the fourth time when they collide in Acapulco on Wednesday.
Sam Querrey (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
Querrey is coming off a fantastic week in Delray Beach where he secured his first ATP World Tour title since 2012, beating Rajeev Ram 6-4 7-6(6) in the final. It was Querrey’s eight title on tour, improving his record in finals to 8-7. Often regarded for going a bit wayward for weeks on end on tour, Querrey is certainly in a purple patch of form at present, and rides a six-match winning streak into his second round encounter with Nishikori after absolutely demolishing diminutive Israeli Dudi Sela 6-2 6-0 in his opener. It’s been an important last fortnight or so for Querrey, after he began the year in disappointing fashion, falling to compatriot John Isner in the second round of Auckland and being forced to retire in his Australian Open first round clash against Dusan Lajovic.
Querrey certainly won’t be afraid of battling Nishikori - he’s defeated him on three occasions in the past (Queens 2011, Toronto 2012, Shanghai 2012), along with stretching him to three sets two weeks ago. In four of the five times Nishikori has won, Querrey has extended him to three sets. It’s also eight years since they first met on tour, when Nishikori defeated Querrey on the way to his first ever ATP title in Delray Beach back in 2008. Overall, Querrey certainly has the firepower to trouble Nishikori, but the World No. 6 is the deserved favourite to prevail - especially after his destructive opening round performance.