Kei Nishikori did not see action at the 2015 French Open on Thursday. Nor will the runnerup from the 2014 US Open see action on Friday. Nishikori, who drew Benjamin Becker in the third round of the French Open, tweeted a message of consolation to the German veteran on Day 5.
Very sorry to hear about Benjamin being injured. I hope he recovers fast.
— Kei Nishikori (@keinishikori) May 28, 2015
Becker, who played the maximum ten sets of tennis in the opening two rounds, is now bothered by a right shoulder injury. But after enduring those two long matches, the soon-to-be 34-year old had basically no chance in the third round against Nishikori, even if healthy.
The walkover is still a huge break for Nishikori as he will enter the second week of play at Roland Garros without any serious fatigue issues blighting him. To summarize his tournament so far, Nishikori got through both rounds one and two having only played the minimum number of sets. That’s not that physically demanding for a player of his conditioning.
Now, with the walkover in round three, Nishikori should basically be 100% fresh, even mid-tournament, while his main rivals to make the French Open final should all be exerting themselves – and possibly getting eliminated.
Looking ahead at Nishikori’s draw, those rivals are Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych, Stan Wawrinka, Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and maybe Gael Monfils. However there is not a lot for those backing Japan’s top player to be worried about in the fourth round. Nishikori could face no one more proven than Lukas Rosol, a player who will probably beat Teymuraz Gabashvili in the third round.
In the quarters, Nishikori could face no one more proven than Berdych, a player who is a late-round underachiever in Grand Slams. Furthermore, Japan’s No. 1 is 3-1 overall against the Birdman, a favorable record that further suggests it will be Nishikori that wins his quarter. Betting odds also favor Nishikori to make the semifinals as the sportsbooks (ie. bet365) generally have him priced shorter than EVEN to do just that.
In the very late rounds, Nishikori may have to battle Roger Federer, another player who received some draw luck at Roland Garros. But I’d take Nishikori to beat Federer should that match-up take place as you have to like fresh and young legs in the late rounds of Slams. Furthermore Federer could be in for a little bit of trouble in the fourth round and quarters as Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka, and Gilles Simon are all near the Swiss Maestro in the draw now.
Nishikori was a major factor on his side of the draw from the onset of the tournament. But with the walkover giving him an edge over his competitors when it comes to who is attritioning and who is not, Japan’s No. 1 is now the player most likely to win his half of the draw in my view.