By Ros Satar at the ATP World Tour Finals, London

  • Novak Djokovic [2] v Kei Nishikori [5]
  • Head to Head: Djokovic leads 10-2
LONDON, ENGLAND – Defending champion Novak Djokovic faces Kei Nishikori as he continues his bid to win a sixth title and regain the World No. 1 ranking.

 

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Novak Djokovic [2] v Kei Nishikori [5] – H2H: Djokovic leads 10-2

It s perhaps déjà vu for Kei Nishikori, having reached the semi-finals two years ago on his World Tour Finals debut, where he was knocked out by Novak Djokovic.

It has been an interesting time for Djokovic here. The normally amiable champion has been on the defensive both on and off the court after the huge gap between him and Andy Murray after the French open (16,950 vs 8,915) has been eroded over the course of the second half of the year.

And even though Nishikori was playing a dead singles match in the last of the round robins, still in play for him is a chance to finish World No. 3 at the end of the year – his highest ranking.

Before then though he will have to snap a nine-match losing streak against Djokovic, with his last win coming at the US Open on his way to the final in 2014. He has met Djokovic twice at the tour finals and his best display was on his debut, having a real drubbing the year after for the gain of just two games.

He certainly impressed with both his win against Stan Wawrinka, and the pace and agility he showed in a bruising encounter with Murray.

He will need all that agility and more if he wants to frustrate Djokovic into errors. The Serbian is made for this court though, and these surroundings have almost become like a second home to him, as he seeks to win a fifth straight title here in London, and his sixth overall.

Djokovic will try and pin Nishikori at the back of the court and prevent him from finding those crazy angles that is the trademark of his fleet-of-foot game. Nishikori will have to take risks and really mix up the pace of the balls he send back – he managed to shut down the aggressive baseline game of Wawrinka completely, and he kept Murray on court for over three hours.

Djokovic may have to find some sense of inner peace. The pressure has been on and in truth it seems a natural thing to go through after such a period of complete dominance. That being said, he just feels too good on this surface, in this arena .

We can expect Nishikori to come out aggressively and maybe even scalp Djokovic the first set, but he would have to be playing lights out tennis to spring the surprise.

Prediction: Djokovic in three sets.

 

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