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Nishikori vs Carballes Baena ATP Barcelona Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Two-time champion, Nishikori takes on lucky loser, Carballes Baena in Barcelona quarters

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 25 Apr 2019
  • Kei Nishikori vs Roberto Carballes Baena is live from Barcelona on Friday, 26 April from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST
  • Nishikori and Carballes Baena meet for the first time
Kei Nishikori (PA Sport)

Kei Nishikori continues his bid for a third Barcelona Open title when he takes on Spaniard, Roberto Carballes Baena in the quarter finals on Friday.

Since 2011, Nishikori is the only man not named Rafael Nadal to have won the Barcelona Open, and he has not just done it once, but twice- claiming consecutive titles in 2014 and 2015. He had a shot at the hat-trick in 2016, but fell to Nadal in the final.

A wrist injury ruled him out of the 2017 edition, while he retired hurt from his opening match in 2018, but the Japanese superstar has got back on track in 2019, beating Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime to move into the quarter finals.

It's been a welcome return to form for Nishikori, who had arrived Barcelona on a three-match losing streak. The 29-year-old was beaten by Hubert Hurkacz in the third round at Indian Wells, while he fell to the same opposition in the second round of the Miami Open, having got a bye through the first round. Nishikori's problems persisted with another opening round loss in Monte Carlo, this time to Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and his woes threatened to continue when he slipped to an early deficit against American, Taylor Fritz in his Barcelona opener.

Fritz was coming off a relatively decent run in Monte Carlo, where he had beaten Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (via retirement) and Diego Schwartzman en route the third round, and after taking out compatriot, Reilly Opelka in the first round in Barcelona, he made a very confident start against Nishikori in the second round.

Nishikori was the exact opposite, apparently struggling for confidence, his usual timing and accuracy went amiss, and he quickly slipped into a 4-1 deficit. The two-time champion fought his way back, winning six of the next seven games to scrap through the first set. Nishikori's cause was aided by a groin injury suffered by Fritz towards the end of the opening set, and the world No. 7 took full advantage, sprinting through the second set to complete a much needed 7-5 6-2 victory. Freed from the shackles of his recent poor form, Nishikori played his best match in a while against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round, scoring a 6-1 6-3 victory over the Canadian to advance to the last eight.

The Japanese served at only 54%, but he protected his serve very well, winning almost 70% of points in both his first amd second serves, and saving five of the six break points he faced. Nishikori also found his range on the return of serve, converting five of the 13 break points he carved out.

Prior to his recent poor patch, Nishikori had made a bright start to the year, winning the Brisbane title, making the quarter finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals in Rotterdam. He went 2-4 after that, but he now appears to be back on track in Barcelona, where he is a victory over lucky loser, Roberto Carballes Baena away from his third semi-final of the season.


Carballes Baena lost to Diego Schwartzman in the final qualifying round, but he got in as a lucky loser, and has beaten Nicola Kuhn and Houston champion, Christian Garin to make his second quarter final of the season.

His only other quarter final was also on clay, predictably, at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires, where he defeated Taro Daniel and Lorenzo Sonego before falling to Marco Cecchinato. He has not won consecutive main draw matches outside Buenos Aires and Barcelona, but he has kept things ticking with first-round wins in Cordoba, Rio, Sao Paolo, Indian Wells and Miami. His only first round defeats were in Pune and the Australian Open.

The 26-year-old has had a few dips at the Challengers this year, and after opening-round losses in Canberra and Alicante, and a second round exit in Phoenix, he finally found some joy in Murcia, where he claimed the title.

The Spaniard has a career-high ranking of 72nd, which he attained after his shock run to the Quito title last February- his only tour-level title till date. He couldn't quite sustain that form for the rest of the year- his other notable results being a quarter final in Estoril and a third-round at Winston-Salem- and was out of the top-100 by August. However, a strong finish on the Challenger Tour, including a title-run in Barcelona and semi-finals in Florence and Brest lifted him to a year-end ranking of 73rd- the first time he'd finished a season inside the top-100.

Carballes Baena is currently 104th in the world, but he is projected to return to the top-100 after this Barcelona Open performance. Can he push higher by upsetting Nishikori in the quarter finals on Friday?

He may not be at the level of some of his compatriots, but Carballes Baena is the quintessential Spanish clay-court campaigner, and will ask several questions of Nishikori in this first meeting between the pair. However, Nishikori is no slouch on this surface, and has taken a particular liking to this venue with his two titles and one runner-up finish. Back in form some form after his recent slump, the world No. 7 should advance to another Barcelona semi-final. 

Kei Nishikori vs Roberto Carballes Baena is live from Barcelona on Friday, 26 April from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance


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Nishikori vs Carballes Baena ATP Barcelona Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Two-time champion, Nishikori takes on lucky loser, Carballes Baena in Barcelona quarters

Kei Nishikori continues his bid for a third Barcelona title when he takes on lucky loser, Roberto Carballes Baena in the quarter finals on Friday. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online

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