By Ros Satar, at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals

  • Kei Nishikori [7] v Dominic Thiem [6]
  • H2H: Nishikori leads 3-1
LONDON, UK – Dominic Thiem’s chances of making it out of the group stages has the slimmest of chances as Kei Nishikori eyes a spot in the semi-finals.

 

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Kei Nishikori [7] v Dominic Thiem [6] | H2H: Nishikori leads 3-1

Dominic Thiem in the first round-robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London

Dominic Thiem in the first round-robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London | (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

It really does not look like it is going to be third time’s the charm for Dominic Thiem, as he clutches to the slimmest of hopes to get out of the group stages on his third year. Standing in his way is a two-time semi-finalist Kei Nishikori as the two underperformers of the group go head to head.

It is not unduly harsh to say that Thiem’s slow start in the opening match against Kevin Anderson set him back from the get-go. By the time he managed to get his head back in the game in a second set that really could have gone either way, it was too little too late from the Austrian, whose highlight this year will have been making his first Slam final at Roland Garros.

READ MORE | Tennis | ATP World Tour Finals 2018 | Tall-talk as Kevin Anderson gets off the mark on season-ending debut

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In essence, Thiem has to beat Nishikori in two sets and rely on Anderson to beat Roger Federer in straight sets to have a chance to reach the semi-finals – and even then it will come down to the percentage of games won between Thiem, Nishikori and Federer for the semi-final spot.

Of course, Nishikori has not had an easy ride either. He and Federer were abysmal in their opening round-robin in about equal measure until Nishikori lifted his level (not by much, it has to be said) to get the opening win. In all honesty, the less said about his match against Anderson, the better.

READ MORE | Tennis | ATP World Tour Finals 2018 | Roger Federer stunned by Kei Nishikori in opener: ‘Practice has been all over the place’

READ MORE | Tennis | ATP World Tour Finals 2018 | Anderson demolishes Nishikori to go 2-0 up in Group Hewitt

In Nishikori’s favour is a 3-1 head to head with the most recent win coming with the Japanese player’s recent resurgence on his way to grabbing a place in the line-up at the season-ending finale.

Nishikori may not have the defined weapons of other players, but his all-court coverage, steadiness and accuracy have managed to find a way past the aggressive baseline play of Thiem. Mathematically it may be possible, but on an indoor court that does not reward topspin as much as it does the harder, flatter ball, it looks like it will not be Thiem’s day.

Prediction: Nishikori in straight sets.

Nishikori & Thiem are scheduled not before 2pm.

 

 

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