By Ros Satar at the ATP World Tour Finals, London
- Andy Murray  v Kei Nishikori 
- Stan Wawrinka  v Marin Cilic 
LONDON, ENGLAND – The scene is set for a pivotal round robin match between Monday’s winners Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori.
Andy Murray  v Kei Nishikori  – H2H: Murray leads 7-2
The O2 arena could well hold a special place in Kei Nishikori’s heart as it was here, two years ago he got his first win over an exhausted Andy Murray. The Brit had done a whistle-stop tour of any and every tournament imaginable just to make the finals.
The run up to this year’s season-ending finale has been marginally less busy, rather fruitful in terms of silverware and of course ranking, and the Brit now faces Nishikori, who demonstrated able what his aggressive play and court-smarts could do against any old three-time Slam champion , after dismantling Stan Wawrinka in his opener.
Where perhaps Murray had expected a quicker court, the strangely slower conditions saw some lengthy rallies against Marin Cilic. Nishikori though can be expected to use his rapidity around the court to maybe make the contest a little more chess-like but Murray will need to be sharp around his returns and his range.
After being tested by Nishikori in the Davis Cup on his return after the birth of his daughter, he was dominant over the Japanese player on the deathly slow courts of Rio. The real twist came at the US Open where Nishikori edged the Brit out in a fiver-setter in the quarter-final, leaving Nishikori with the latest ‘W’ in an otherwise dominant Murray head to head.
Nishikori was very effective at nullifying Wawrinka’s own aggressive play – although by his own admission his opener was a little bit of a bad day at the office. If Murray gets off to a slow start and Nishikori comes at him with the same aggression he had against Wawrinka, we could be in for a long one.
Prediction: Murray in three sets.
Stan Wawrinka  v Marin Cilic  – H2H: Wawrinka leads 10-2
For the people who came to the O2 expecting to see Grand Slam ‘Stan’, they will have been as disappointed as the man himself that he could make no headway with his aggressive game against a pin-point accurate Nishikori.
There is, of course, a lot to play for in this round-robin match and on first glance, Cilic will fancy his chances of rendering a bit of an upset here. Wawrinka has been a regular in the latter stages of this tournament since he made his debut in 2013, but there is a spring in the Croatian’s step at the moment.
Cilic’s win in Cincinnati has given him a fair bit of confidence, along with a new coaching direction courtesy of Jonas Bjorkman. While we could conceivably say Wawrinka is looking to be as much of a big stage player as the rest of the Big Five, a knee niggle may have also played a part in his slow start to the tournament.
That being said the form-book is heavily weighted in Wawrinka’s favour and Cilic will be looking to snap a six match losing streak dating back to 2010. Since St. Petersburg, Wawrinka has been on a bit of a drift, but Cilic arrives on the back of the Basel title and the run to the Paris semi-final where he beat Novak Djokovic for the first time on the way.
Prediction: Marin Cilic in two sets.
Murray and Nishikori are scheduled at 2pm, with Cilic and Wawrinka at 8pm (all times GMT).
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