Finals previews and predictions: Murray vs. Tsonga, Nishikori vs. Cilic

Andy Murray will look to add another title to his 2016 haul when he takes the court against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Sunday in Vienna. In Basel, meanwhile, Marin Cilic is ultimately looking to join Kei Nishikori in the World Tour Finals.

Erste Bank Open: (1) Andy Murray vs. (6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Murray and Tsonga will be squaring off for the 16th time in their careers at the ATP level when they battle for the Vienna title on Sunday. The head-to-head series stands at 13-2 in favor of Murray, who has taken 12 of their last 13 encounters. The second-ranked Scot had won eight consecutive sets at Tsonga’s expense heading into a quarterfinal showdown at Wimbledon this summer, but the Frenchman suddenly made things competitive after at first seeing his sets lost skid reach 10. Murray stumbled in the third and fourth sets at the All-England Club but managed to hold off Tsonga 7-6(10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1 on his way to the title.

Murray’s current hot streak, which started just before Wimbledon at Queen’s Club, features five titles in the span of seven events. He is now one victory away from making it six in the last eight. Vienna’s top seed has improved to 39-2 in his last 41 tournament matches following wins this week over Martin Klizan, Gilles Simon, and John Isner (he also got a walkover from David Ferrer). Tsonga rolled over Benjamin Becker, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets before coming back from a set and a break down to beat Ivo Karlovic 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(6). The world No. 15 is a solid 35-15 for the year and still in distant contention for a spot in the World Tour Finals. But this has never been a good matchup for Tsonga, and there is no reason to think that will change against a well-rested opponent who did not even have to play a semifinal match.

Pick: Murray in 2

Swiss Indoors Basel: (4) Marin Cilic vs. (3) Kei Nishikori

It will be a rematch of the 2014 U.S. Open final when Cilic and Nishikori clash in the Basel final on Sunday. Cilic dominated their most important contest 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, but he trails the overall head-to-head series 7-4. They have not completed a full match against each since last fall, because Nishikori retired from a fourth-round Wimbledon showdown this summer while trailing 6-1, 5-1.
Nishikori 1
The world No. 5 is healthy now and has 19 of 24 matches since leaving the All-England Club, a stretch that includes a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. Nishikori took care of Dusan Lajovic, Paolo Lorenzi, and Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets this week before saving two match points in a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 defeat of Gilles Muller on Saturday. Cilic has advanced with victories over Mikhail Youzhny, Pablo Carreno Busta, Marcel Granollers, and Mischa Zverev, dropping just one set to a red-hot Zverev in the process. The 12th-ranked Croat’s semifinal win will send him past Tomas Berdych into World Tour Finals qualification position heading into the final regular-season tournament, next week’s Paris Masters. A motivated and in-form Cilic should be able to add a significant number of points to his total at Nishikori’s expense.

Pick: Cilic in 3

28 Comments on Finals previews and predictions: Murray vs. Tsonga, Nishikori vs. Cilic

  1. Cilic is serving big and playing some inspired tennis as he bids for a WTF spot. I think he gets the job done in three sets. Tsonga almost took down Andy at Wimbledon and on this also fast surface I think Tsonga has a shot but my pick is Murray in 3.

  2. Hey Ricky, just realised a sort of pattern here when you preview Nishikori matches. You seem to always pick against him? (besides that Wawrinka one)

    And also very often against lower opposition too…

  3. The only way Tsonga will take a set off Andy today is if the B&B (brains and brawn) Tsonga shows up. At least it should be a final worth watching which is more than could be said had he not pulled himself together in the SF.

    Murray in 2

  4. After watching the Nishiikori SF with Muller, where he was way too passive, have got to go with the on fire Cilic.

    Cilic in 3

  5. Congrats to Marin. He just put distance between himself and old Berdych. We’ll see if Cilic can continue this form in Paris…but there’s that DC final with Argentina lurking.

  6. Yes! Marin finally won his first 500 event, after winning his first Masters this year. So he’s firmly inside top ten now and most likely will make the WTF again. Well done.

  7. Stoked for Marin. I hope he qualifies. And good work from Murray. Closing in on number one. I would’ve liked to see Tsonga with the upset but at the same time I want Murray to get that number one spot.

    • I saw the second set of Murray/Tsonga. At least Tsonga put up a battle in the second set, but Murray is just too good right now. He is looking focused on the #1 ranking.

  8. Sorry for Tsonga always been the nearly man, such alot of talent never realised, that 2011 win over Federer at W was some of the best tennis i ever saw him play, same as Berdych the previous year, anyway super happy for Murray seems like he really after that no 1 ranking, the end of the year will be interesting thats for sure, all bets are off 😉 ….

  9. Would love to see Andy win in Paris and so take the number one spot. His back surgery really derailed his chances in 2014 and together with Nadal’s injuries and Federer’s fading dominance it allowed Djokovic to dominate since then. Now Murray has battled his way back into contention and it would be good for tennis and Andy if he became number one. Keeping my fingers and everything else crossed. Go for it Andy.

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