Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori ATP Monte Carlo tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Zverev and Nishikori to battle for Monte Carlo final spot

Leye Aduloju in ATP 21 Apr 2018
  • Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori is live from Monte Carlo on Saturday, 21 April from 3:30pm local tme/ 2:30pm BST
  • Zverev won their only other meeting in straight sets in Washington last year
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Monte Carlo at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)
Alexander Zverev. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

After coming through three-set slugs in their respective quarter finals, Alexander Zverev and Kei Nishikori are back at it again on Saturday as they battle for a spot in a maiden Monte Carlo final.

Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori ATP Monte Carlo Masters Tennis is live from Monte Carlo on Saturday, 21 April from 3:30pm local tme/ 2:30pm BST
Watch and bet on tennis live from Monte Carlo at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

On his 21st birthday, Alexander Zverev pulled off one of the most satisfying wins of his career, outlasting Richard Gasquet in a grueling clay-court battle to move into the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time in his career. For two hours and 40 minutes, Zverev and Gasquet went toe to toe, pushing each other to the very limit of their physical and mental thresholds. Gasquet had made the better start, showing off the flare that has made him one of the most aesthetically pleasing players on tour. The Frenchman was typically sublime off the backhand wing; and kept Zverev guessing with some exquisite drop shots. Gasquet took the opening set 6-4; and had chances to break in the opening game of the second set. The Frenchman was profligate, failing to convert any of three break points, thus letting Zverev off the hook. The German slowly took charge after that, wearing Gasquet down from the back of the court and showcasing an often understated defence as the contest got more and more physical. 


Gasquet hasn’t always passed such physical examination, and Zverev duly dominated the second set to send the match into a decider. The German appeared to have taken firm control when he broke for the 2-0 lead in the deciding set, but from looking down and out, Gasquet found some inspiration, fighting back impressively to get back on serve. That was a part of a run of six breaks in seven matches, as both men refused to let the other get away. This match got better and better, the rallies got more and more brutal, but the quality never diminished. Gasquet’s liquid backhand was flowing- there were some monstrous hits down the line, but there were also feathery flicks at the net. Zverev wouldn’t been undone, unfurling his own rockets down the line.

In the end, Zverev’s greater physical fitness and extra solidity from the back of the court shone through- and his celebrations- collapsing into the ground after converting his first match point- was a clear indication of just how much the contest had taken out of him.

Zverev is into his second successive Masters 1000 semi-final, having made the final of the Miami Open in his previous tour appearance. The German certainly knows his way around these Masters 1000 tournaments, having claimed two titles- Rome and Montreal last season. He won five trophies overall in his best career year till date, which ended with him at No. 4 in the world. 

Zverev did not start the season particularly well, falling to Hyeon Chung in the third round of the Australian Open, and losing to Andreas Seppi in the second round of the second round in Rotterdam. He made his first real move in Acapulco, reaching the semi-finals, but he slipped up again at Indian Wells, falling to Joao Sousa having established a big lead. It came together for him in Miami, where he produced his best tennis of the season up till that point. He has needed to work very hard to make it this far in the principality, beating Gilles Muller, Jan Lennard Struff and now Gasquet in straight sets.

His next opponent, Nishikori has also spent a lot of his time on court this week, with three of his four matches going three sets. 

Kei Nishikori. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
The Japanese, who is making just his second appearance in Monte Carlo, went the distance against Tomas Berdych in the opening round, took out Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the second round, outlasted Andreas Seppi in a three-set roller-coaster in the third round, and on Friday, held off Marin Cilic, also in three sets to move on to the semi-finals.

Nishikori bossed most of the opening exchanges against Cilic, with his dynamism off both wings proving too much for the Croatian, and he looked set to close out an impressive dispatch when he served for the match at 6-4 5-4. However, the 28-year-old failed to convert any of three match points, including a 40-15 lead, as an aggressive Cilic swung his way to survival. Cilic’s aggression yielded big reward in the ensuing tie break, with the Croatian dropping just one point on his way to parity. Both men guarded their serves jealously in the final set, until Cilic blinked in the eighth blinked in the eighth game. Nishikori pounced to break before closing out a hard-fought 6-4 6-7 6-3.

Nishikori has now made two ATP semi-finals since he returned from the wrist injury that kept him out of action in the closing months of 2017. After easing his way back to competition via the Challenger Tournaments, he returned to the main tour in New York, where he made the semi-finals. It didn’t quite happen for him after that, as he fell early in Acapulco and Miami, while illness prevented him from playing at Indian Wells.

He has looked sharp in Monte Carlo, and while his comeback remains work-in-progress, the signs from the principality are very good. 

“Every match I think I'm improving,” said Nishikori. “Today was tough match. He was playing very good, especially in the second set. He was playing aggressively, [taking the ball] early and serving well.

Can he take it one step further and advance into a fourth Masters 1000 final? He must beat Alexander Zverev for the first time to do that.

Zverev was a 6-3 6-4 victor in their only previous meeting in Washington last year, but Saturday’s meeting is unlikely to be that straight-forward. A lot will depend on how well both men recover from their demanding semi-finals. Nishikori looked like he was feeling it a bit against Cilic, which is unsurprising given his lengthy injury-induced layoff. Zverev’s ball-striking ability from the back of the court means there is more running to be done on Saturday, while the German backs it up with some excellent movement of his own. This could be another long one, but I’m leaning slightly towards Zverev to outlast Nishikori in another hard-fought encounter.

Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori is live from Monte Carlo on Saturday, 21 April from 3:30pm local tme/ 2:30pm BST


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Alexander Zverev vs Kei Nishikori ATP Monte Carlo tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Zverev and Nishikori to battle for Monte Carlo final spot

Alexander Zverev and Kei Nishikori go head-to-head on Saturday to battle for a Monte Carlo final spot. Wo will advance to a maiden final? Red our predictions, preciew and stream the match live online.

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