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Nishikori vs Herbert ATP Rotterdam Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Top seed, Nishikori opens Rotterdam title bid against in-form Herbert

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 12 Feb 2019
  • Kei Nishikori vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert is live from Rotterdam on Tuesday, 12 February from 7:30pm local time/ 6:30pm GMT
  • Nishikori defeated Herbert in their only previous meeting in Miami in 2016
Kei Nishikori. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Top seed, Kei Nishikori makes his Rotterdam debut on Monday as he takes on in-form Frenchman, Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Nishikori traditionally spends this time of the season in South and North America, but he has taken a different route this year, stopping by in Rotterdam for the first time. He's looking to build on a fine start to the season, having claimed the Brisbane title in the opening week of the year, and made the quarter finals of the Australian Open. It wasn't the smoothest of runs in Melbourne, as he was involved in five-setters against Kamil Majchrzak, Ivo Karlovic and Pablo Carreno Busta, and unsurprisingly, he had very little else to give in his quarter final against world No. 1, Novak Djokovic, and retired after winning just two games in a set and a half.

This time last year, Nishikori was still on the comeback trail after missing the latter part of the previous season due to a wrist injury. He had missed the Australian Open, and chose to ease his way back to the sport via the Challenger route. The going was initially slow, with the Japanese falling as low as 39th at the start of April, but he began the climb again during the clay season, making the final in Monte Carlo, quarter finals in Rome, and the fourth round at Roland Garros. He also reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon, and continued that upward trajectory in the hard court swing, highlighted by a semi-final at the US Open, runner-up finishes in Tokyo and Vienna and qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals.

The impressive resurgence lifted him into the top ten at the end of the season, and he's gained a couple more positions with his start to the new year, checking in at No. 7 ahead of his Rotterdam campaign.


Speaking of a good start to the year, how about Pierre-Hugues Herbert?

Pierre-Hugues Herbert. (Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
The Frenchman, more renowned for his work in doubles, has been superb this season, opening with a quarter final in Doha, making the third round at the Australian Open, where he beat former major semi-finalists, Sam Querrey and Hyeon Chung, and then most recently, reaching the final in Montpellier just last week, beating Denis Shapovalov and Tomas Berdych before falling to compatriot, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.

He's done all of these while maintaining his doubles excellence, as he won the doubles title in Doha (with David Goffin) and completed his career Slam with Nicolas Mahut when they took away the Australian Open title.

Herbert's fine start to the year has lifted him to a new career-high ranking, as he broke into the top 40 for the first time after his runner-up finish in Montpellier. That was the third time he would finish second at a tour-level event, as he had also made finals in Winston-Salem in 2015, and in Shenzhen last year, in what was easily his stand-out performance in 2018. He also made the quarter finals in Pune and Antalya, and the fourth round at Indian Wells in his other noteworthy results. He has enjoyed previous success in Rotterdam, as he made the semi-finals in 2017, and given the form he has been this year, the world No. 36 will be targeting more success in the Dutch capital in the coming days.

Herbert lost to Nishikori in their only previous meeting, 6-2 7-6 in Miami in 2016, but he comes into this reunion in much better form, and will be hoping to cause the top seed more problems. The serve, as usual, is key for Herbert- if he finds his mark, he can utilize his net skills to finish points quickly at the forecourt, but that's also carries serious dangers against Nishikori, one of the finest returners, and crispiest strikers of the ball on the tour. If the volley isn’t accurate, he will be a sitting duck, given the quality of Nishikori’s passing shots- off both wings. Herbert will keep this close of he serves well, but Nishikori's all-round dynamism should be too good for the Frenchman on Tuesday.

Kei Nishikori vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert is live from Rotterdam on Tuesday, 12 February from 7:30pm local time/ 6:30pm GMT

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Nishikori vs Herbert ATP Rotterdam Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Top seed, Nishikori opens Rotterdam title bid against in-form Herbert

Kei Nishikori takes on Pierre-Hugues Herbert on his Rotterdam debut on Tuesday. Will it be a winning debut for the Japanese? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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