Final previews and picks: Nishikori vs. Benneteau, Murray vs. Robredo

BenneteauWill the 10th time be the charm for Julien Benneteau? If so, his first ATP title will come at the expense of Kei Nishikori on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, Andy Murray and Tommy Robredo are fighting for the Shenzhen winner’s trophy.

Malaysian Open: (1) Kei Nishikori vs. (4) Julien Benneteau

Benneteau is one win away from his long-awaited first ATP title as he takes the court on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur. The 32-year-old Frenchman has lost in finals an amazing nine times. The list reads: Casablanca 2008, Lyon 2008, Kitzbuhel 2009, Marseille 2010, Winston-Salem 2011, Sydney 2012, Kuala Lumpur 2012, Rotterdam 2013, Kuala Lumpur 2013. As indicated, this is Benneteau’s third consecutive final at this event and he reached it by defeating Filip Krajinovic, Pablo Cuevas, and Ernests Gulbis.

Standing in Benneteau’s way is U.S. Open runner-up Nishikori, who is 2-1 lifetime in the head-to-head series having most recently dominated 6-4, 6-2 last fall at the Paris Masters. The world No. 8 has picked up right where he left off in New York by taking out Rajeev Ram, Marinko Matosevic, and Jarrko Nieminen so far this week. He is now an awesome 43-10 for his 2014 campaign. Against an opponent in this kind of form who already owns five career titles, it is too much to expect for Benneteau to get over such a big mental blockade.

Pick: Nishikori in 3

Shenzhen Open: (4) Tommy Robredo vs. (2) Andy Murray

Robredo and Murray will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers when they battle for the Shenzhen title on Sunday. Murray leads the head-to-head series 3-2 after prevailing most recently 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 last summer at Wimbledon. Although the 11th-ranked Scot has taken only one of their three hard-court meetings, he is 3-0 against Robredo since the start of 2009 and 7-0 in total sets since in that span. The Spaniard’s two victories came back in 2006 and 2007.

It has been somewhat slow going for an injury-plagued Murray in 2014, but he turned in a respectable quarterfinal showing at the U.S. Open and so far in Shenzhen he has posted wins over Somdev Devvarman, Lukas Lacko, and Juan Monaco–dropping one set to Monaco in the process. Robredo advanced by beating Sam Groth, Andreas Seppi, and Santiago Giraldo. The world No. 22 is 35-20 for the season, which includes fourth-round appearances at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. Like most of Murray’s Shenzhen opponents this week, Robredo does not quite have the serve or general firepower to hit through the favorite even on a relatively fast hard court.

Pick: Murray in 2

14 Comments on Final previews and picks: Nishikori vs. Benneteau, Murray vs. Robredo

  1. Anyone know what was ailing Murray in the SF? In his interview on court he said the heat and humidity had been troubling him but I had the impression there was more to it than just that. For goodness sake, he trains in Miami a lot of the time.

  2. He admits to a loss in confidence but that body language yesterday was beyond bad.
    If you look like you dont want to be on court and walk around with your head down all the time the man on the other side of the net has to believe he’s in with a good chance.
    Luckily for Murray Pico ran out of steam.

    He needs to pull up his socks today though.
    Murray in 3

  3. That’s what one would call living dangerously. Andy plucked the 2nd set out of the fire on a TB when he was down 2-6

  4. Tommy’s spirit was broken when he lost the opportunity to cause a major upset. Murray cruised home to take the final set. Felt for Tommy that loss was a bitter pill to swallow after being so close. Well done Andy for hanging on in there.

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