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Nishikori vs Auger-Aliassime tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Rising Auger-Aliassime looks for second career top-10 win in Barcelona

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 24 Apr 2019
  • Kei Nishikori faces Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round of the Barcelona Open
  • Nishikori vs Auger-Aliassime is live from Barcelona on Thursday at 11am local/10am BST
Kei Nishikori (PA Sport)

Felix Auger-Aliassime goes for his second career victory over a top-10 player as he takes on world no. 7 Kei Nishikori for a place in the Barcelona Open quarterfinals.

Two-time Barcelona Open champion Kei Nishikori finds himself up against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round on Thursday.

Kei Nishikori (PA Sport)
It will be the first time Nishikori and Auger-Aliassime have met, although fans of shotmaking will hope that it won’t be the last as this match could be a thrilling watch.

Nishikori plays well at the Barcelona Open, where he is the only non-Spanish player to have captured the title since 11-time champion Rafael Nadal began his one-man reign of terror at Spain’s oldest tennis club in 2005. Nishikori won his back-to-back titles without having to face Nadal but did see off all other contenders with assurance in 2014, when he beat Santiago Giraldo in the final, and 2015, when he faced Pablo Andujar, even making it back to the final in 2016 before Nadal finally reasserted his supremacy.

Coming into this year’s Barcelona Open, Nishikori had not only lost the only match he had played at the tournament since the 14-match winning streak he had compiled in 2014-16 was snapped by Nadal, but was also coming off a period of poor results – a period, in fact, which may be ongoing. After going 11-2 in his first three events of 2019 and ending a long title drought by winning the Brisbane International, Nishikori failed to win back-to-back matches at his next four events and came into Barcelona on a three-match losing streak, capped with an early defeat to Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he had semifinal points to defend.

Under the circumstances, then, a 7-5, 6-2 victory for Nishikori over Taylor Fritz after a first-round bye was exactly what the doctor ordered for the world no. 7. Nishikori was outserved by the American, who landed eight aces as well as a higher percentage of first serves in and points won behind them, but the superiority of Nishikori’s ground game was evident in the way he protected his second serve and attacked his opponent’s, and he converted four of the break points he faced for his fourteenth match win of 2019.

Now Nishikori will be hoping to win back-to-back matches for the first time since Rotterdam, but he knows he faces what could be a test in the form of Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Nishikori and Auger-Aliassime might never have met but you’d have to have been under a rock to be in the tennis world and not have heard about the Canadian teenager, who started the year at world no. 108 and has already rocketed up to world no. 31. 

Felix Auger-Aliassime (PA Sport)
Auger-Aliassime, still just 18, put himself on the brink of breaking into the top 100 with a solid 2018 season which included a Challenger title in Tashkent and an ATP Tour quarterfinal appearance in Chengdu, but he has really exploded in 2019, although his January results (a first-round defeat in Pune as a qualifier, then a first-round defeat at the Rennes Challenger to a player ranked world no. 484) didn’t suggest it. He got his first main-draw ATP Tour win of the year over Fabio Fognini at the Rio Open and went on to reach the final of the 500-level event before finishing runner-up to Laslo Djere. He got the first top-10 win of his career over Stefanos Tsitsipas to make the third round at the Indian Wells Masters, then went on to make the semifinals of the Miami Masters, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili and Borna Coric on the way.

Auger-Aliassime started his clay season at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last week where he beat qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero before losing 1-6, 4-6 to Alexander Zverev. Seeded sixteenth at the Barcelona Open, he beat Malek Jaziri in the second round, dominating the first set and then surviving a fightback attempt from Jaziri in the second set to edge it in a tie-break, hitting a forehand passing shot winner on match point for a 6-3, 7-6(7) win.

Now Auger-Aliassime is looking for just his second win over a top-10 player in four attempts, all of which have come during the 2019 season, underscoring how rapid his elevation through the ranks has been. Nishikori is not playing particularly well at the moment, looking underwhelming on serve, but he might be too experienced and consistent for Auger-Aliassime, who turned up very flat against Zverev at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. On the other hand, Auger-Aliassime did play much better in the second set of that match and it was to Zverev’s credit that he was able to close it out. Nishikori has been losing matches from a winning position lately and Auger-Aliassime will have his chances, if he can take them. 

Nishikori vs Auger-Aliassime Barcelona Open tennis is live on Thursday at 11am local/10am BST

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Nishikori vs Auger-Aliassime tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Rising Auger-Aliassime looks for second career top-10 win in Barcelona

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