Marin Cilic vs Kei Nishikori ATP Monte Carlo tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Cilic and Nishikori battle for maiden Monte Carlo semi-final

Leye Aduloju in ATP 20 Apr 2018
  • Marin Cilic vs Kei Nishikori is live from Monte Carlo on Friday, 20 April from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST
  • Nishikori leads 7-6 on head-to-head
  • 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)
Marin Cilic. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Marin Cilic attempts to end a run of two straight Monte Carlo quarter final defeats when he takes on Kei Nishikori, who is also looking to reach the semi-finals for the first time, on Friday.

Marin Cilic vs Kei Nishikori ATP Monte Carlo Masters tennis is live from Monte Carlo on Friday, 20 April from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)
Watch and bet on tennis live from Monte Carlo at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

Cilic first reached the Monte Carlo quarter-finals in 2015, falling to Novak Djokovic; he missed the 2016 edition through injury, but made the last eight on his return to the tournament in 2017. The Croatian’s performances in Monte Carlo were part of a very good run on clay last year, which included a title in Istanbul and quarter finals in Rome and Roland Garros- his best performance in Paris.

He carried that form into the grass court season, peaking with a runner-up finish at Wimbledon. The world number three spent some time out of the sport after Wimbledon, missing Masters 1000 tournaments at Montreal and Cincinnati, but he finished the year fairly strongly, ending the regular season with consecutive semi-finals in Tokyo, Shanghai and Basel. Unfortunately, he had a very poor outing at the Nitto ATP Finals, going 0-3 in his round robin matches against Roger Federer, Jack Sock and Alexander Zverev.

Cilic opened the new season with a bang, making the final of the Australian Open, but he struggled after that, falling early in Rio (clay), Indian Wells and Miami. Another early exit appeared on the cards when he was drawn to open his Monte Carlo campaign against the perennially dangerous Fernando Verdasco, but despite several hiccups, Cilic took care of business pretty efficiently, seeing off Verdasco after an hour and 34 minutes.

The second seed got his first break of the match in the fourth game of the opening set; and maintained that lead for the rest of the set. The second set was more complicated, as Cilic had to come back from a break down twice, including breaking Verdasco while the Spaniard served to force a decider at 5-3. The set eventually went into a tie break, and Cilic’s greater consistency told in the end, as he pulled off a 6-3 7-6 victory over his Spanish opponent.

The former US Open champion was scheduled to play Milos Raonic in a big-serving third-round meeting on Thursday, but the Canadian withdrew because he has a knee injury, granting Cilic a free pass into the last eight, where he will play Kei Nishikori.


Nishikori is making just his second appearance in Monte Carlo, with the first being in 2012 when he lost to Tomas Berdych in the third round. 

Kei Nishikori. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
The Japanese has earned his revenge this week, coming back from a set down to beat Berdych in the opening round. Nishikori followed that up with a 7-5 6-2 victory over Daniil Medvedev, before coming through a topsy-turvy third-round contest against Andreas Seppi to earn his spot in the quarter finals.

Nishikori appeared set for a rapid afternoon’s work when he took the first seven games of his contest against Seppi, but Seppi, backed by a pro-Italian crowd hit back in the second set, winning five straight games from 1-2 down to takes the set, and force a decider in a bizarre contest. Nishikori forced what turned out to be the decisive break midway through the final set, before taking the win on his second match point after an hour and 49 minutes.

The Japanese is into his second ATP world Tour quarter final of the season, the other being in New York, where he made the semifinals in his first ATP tournament since Montreal in 2017. The former world number four was one of many top players to end their 2016 early because of injuries- as he pulled the plug after the Rogers Cup because of a wrist problem. He did not heal in time for the Australian Open, but he instead made his comeback at the Newport Beach Challenger at the end of January. Nishikori lost to Denis Novikov in his comeback match, but he responded with a title-winning run in the Dallas Challenger in the following week. That was followed by the aforementioned run in New York, where he lost to Kevin Anderson in the last four. He could not quite build any momentum in the remainder of the north American hard-court season, as he lost his tournament opener in Acapulco, pulled out of Indian Wells because of illness, before falling to Juan Martin del Potro in the third round in Miami.

The switch to the Monte Carlo clay has brought better tidings for Nishikori, and the Japanese targets further success when he takes aim at Marin Cilic on Friday. Cilic and Nishikori have seen quite a lot of each other, with the Japanese shading the head-to-head 7-6. Cilic has won their last three matches, but the pair haven’t crossed paths since their Tour Finals meeting in 2016. 

Nishikori also won their only clay-court encounter, a comfortable 6-1 6-3 victory in Barcelona in 2014. While Cilic is obviously no Rafael Nadal, I think he is a lot better on clay these days, and he looked quite assured against Verdasco in his Monte Carlo opener. He was particularly good with the forehand, catching Verdasco off balance with his ability to change direction with that stroke, and he will need that skill against Nishikori, who is an expert at mixing up his groundstrokes.

For all of Nishikori’s dynamism off the ground, he is still susceptible on serve, and will offer up break opportunities on this surface, particularly in this period when he is still well short of his best following his injury problems. Cilic on the other hand retains his potent serve, effective even on this surface. That, coupled with his crispness off the ground, tilts this contest in his favour in my opinion.

Marin Cilic vs Kei Nishikori is live from Monte Carlo on Friday, 20 April from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST
Watch and bet on the match live at bet365 > live streaming > Marin Cilic vs Kei Nishikori (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)


Share this with your friends

To:
From:
Your comments:

Marin Cilic vs Kei Nishikori ATP Monte Carlo tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Cilic and Nishikori battle for maiden Monte Carlo semi-final

Marin Cilic takes on Kei Nishikori in the quarter finals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday. Who will reach the semis for the first time? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

Read more »

You have unread messages

You have unread messages