Match Review: Tomas Berdych v Kei Nishikori

We had a blockbuster first-round match on the second day of action at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters as twelfth seed Tomas Berdych from the Czech Republic faced off against Japanese Kei Nishikori in the second match on Court Rainier III. The match did end up being slightly underwhelming as after an average first set, the final two sets were quite scrappy with neither player really being able to sustain good play but in the end, Nishikori caused the upset and got the 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Berdych. After this match, the twelfth seed needs to take a hard look at what went wrong as after the start of the second set he could barely get a first serve in and the majority of his shots were all over the place. This was not even a great performance from Nishikori as he served well enough and extended enough rallies to draw errors.

Set 1

There was some early rust from Kei Nishikori as he was hitting quite a few rally shots long and the serving wasn’t strong enough which led Tomas Berdych snatching the early break before showing off good one-two punches with the forehand to hold serve for 0-3. Nishikori got on the board after he started to win some of the longer rallies to hold but Berdych was still looking good on serve as he was implementing a deadly one-two punch behind his forehand that was winning him many points. Nishikori did keep gaining momentum as he hit his first winner to hold before hitting some great backhand passing shots to set up a break point at 2-4 down. It was impressive from Berdych on the breakpoint as he used the default serving and forehand combination to save it and then hold. Berdych dropped off in the next couple of games as he hit some return errors to give Nishikori the hold to love and then the twelfth seed played a bad service game with a double fault and Nishikori broke for 4-5. It was not on serve for long as Berdych nailed some big returns in the next game to break for the 4-6 set.

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Set 2

There were signs of what was coming for Tomas Berdych early as he opened with some terrible errors but he was able to save two break points and his opening service game with some masterful forehand one-two punches. It was not the best start on serve from Kei Nishikori either as he hit some rally shots out but then used the smart tactic of hitting into the Berdych backhand and breaking it down for the error. The next two games were quite scrappy from both as they exchanged holds after the returner missed quite a few shots and was not able to keep it together but from 2-2, the Berdych downfall began. Nishikori broke at that point by wearing down the Czech’s backhand with his forehand and then Nishikori consolidated the break with a great service hold to love which included an ace to finish it. Berdych lost another break at 4-2 after he hit two double faults in a game and then at duece missed an easy enough volley when he had the vast majority of the court at his disposal. The final game of the set was another strong one from Nishikori as he hit some signature backhands to close 6-2.

Nishikori2018MiamiOpen.jpg

Set 3

The third set was an unfortunate event for Tomas Berdych and that showed from the first game when the double fault count rose for Berdych and Kei Nishikori was just standing on the baseline and targeting the twelfth seed’s backhand to break in the opener game of the set. Nishikori wasn’t playing top tennis but he was serving well as he started the next game with an ace and he held to love but then it looked like Berdych might have a hope when he played a game with some good forehands while Nishikori’s forehand let him down and Berdych got a game at 2-1. Getting on the board didn’t help him as he then went on an awful run of form and lost eleven straight points, including a break to love, almost entirely due to his own errors which saw Nishikori leading 4-1, 40-0. The Japanese man didn’t end up holding to love there as he made some errors but he ultimately did hold and then broke to love with some return winners for the 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win.

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