Toronto final preview and prediction: Djokovic vs. Nishikori

Novak Djokovic is one win away from yet another Masters 1000 title, but he has a formidable foe standing in his way on Sunday in Toronto. Kei Nishikori decisively announced his return from an injury sustained at Wimbledon by beating Stan Wawrinka in the semis.

Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori will be squaring off for the 12th time in their careers and for the fifth time already this season when they battle for the Rogers Cup title on Sunday afternoon.

Nishikori once led the head-to-head series 2-1 after stunning the top-ranked Serb in the 2014 U.S. Open semifinals, but Djokovic has since reeled off eight victories in succession. During this stretch he has issued four breadsticks and one bagel to Nishikori. Their two most recent encounters, however, have at least showcased some semblance of competitiveness. Djokovic prevailed 6-3, 7-6(4) in Madrid before surviving 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) in Rome (both in clay-court semifinals).

This week’s top seed appeared to ripe for an upset coming off a shocking third-round Wimbledon loss to Sam Querrey and having arrived in Toronto with an apparent right arm issue. Djokovic has been far from dominant at times, but he battled past Gilles Muller, Radek Stepanek, and Tomas Berdych before picking up the pace to hammer a red-hot Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday night.
Djokovic 1
Nishikori punched his ticket to the final by defeating Dennis Novikov, Rajeev Ram, Grigor Dimitrov, and Stan Wawrinka while dropping only one set to Dimitrov along the way. Japan’s top player is now an awesome 40-11 for the season, which features a title in Memphis and runner-up finishes in Miami and Barcelona.

Based on Djokovic’s recent dominance of the world No. 6 and his improved play against Monfils, second best will most likely be Nishikori’s fate once again.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

19 Comments on Toronto final preview and prediction: Djokovic vs. Nishikori

  1. Unlike Monfils, Kei will pounce on Novak’s second serve.
    Expecting a much closer contest than today… Nole in 3.

    • that’s the thing… Kei has a great return and he MUST pounce on Djokovic’s weak second serves…. Monfils couldn’t put any pressure… Kei will even get some double faults from Novak if he keeps the pressure up.

      In baseline duels, Novak is obv superior and he was playing pretty well from the baseline 3-2 set 1 onward.

      Novak to win but if Kei’s returning is on, could be an interesting match.

      • vr,

        I still can’t believe that Stan lost to Nishi. He seemed to be in control in the first set and Nishi seemed like he might be hurt or not felling that well. Then I went out and came home to find out that Stan lost. Not that it bothers me, but obviously that match took a different turn at some point.

        I have been watching sporadically and haven’t had much of a chance to see Novak. I would hope that Nishi does pressure Novak’s second serve in the final. He needs to do it if he is to make a match of this.

        I think Novak will come through with the win here. It probably should be 2 sets, but if Nishi plays well then he might push it to 3 sets. I can see Novak being really motivated to get this title abd out Wimbledon behind him.

  2. Wondered what was wrong with him, it’s odd watching him play when he’s not at his best. guess we’ll have to see how bad the arm is. Sorry to hear that.

  3. Didnt watch much the matches but watched a bit of both SFs. I must say Djoko not at full strength was still better than any of them. The gap between him and these 2nd tier players is really very wide if Djoko is at his best.

    • I agree with lucky as to Novak just being in a different class from the rest. While one might say that the top four have been in a class of their own and that is why they have dominated, I think that Novak has pulled away from the other three. It is true that Fed us getting older and Rafa had injuries, but that is not a reflection on Novak, he has continued to work on his game, get mentally tougher and make incremental improvements in his game.

      There have been some signs that the pressure has gotten to Novak. So we will have to see how he responds in the North American summer hard court season.

      Andy Murray has stepped up and played some of his best tennis to present a real challenge to Novak. So I don’t assume that there will be no competition for him. It would have been great if Rafa could have stayed healthy and continued playing so well. Now it remains to be seen how Rafa comes back from this latest setback.

  4. The gap between the big 4 and the rest is very wide. That is why they were consistently beating the field and occupying all the semi final slots in the days when all were at their peak. Fed is old, Rafa and Muzz were recovering from injury in 2015 and part of 2016. So Djok had the trophies without struggle and gave the impression of having become invincible. Muzz is probably back but cannot be sure till he faces Djok.

    • Robotic and poor Kei was like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a lorry apart from a few brief moments.

  5. Djoko won. NID.

    He, like Fed, could win even when playing his B game. Rafa, OTOH, has to play very well from the get go in order to win a tournament off clay. Its only on clay that Rafa with his B or even C game could still win the whole thing.

    • A little more to achieve to get there. But he certainly has that air about him, the same one he had before Wimbledon.

  6. I did not watch the tourney…I just knew Novak would win the whole thing! There was nobody to challenge him…30 master titles for Nole! Respect! And the rest of the field, except for Andy when his game is on and when he puts his mind into it, poses no threat to Novak even when Novak is not at his very best..,

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