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Nishikori vs Kukushkin ATP Vienna Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: In-form Nishikori takes on qualifier Kukushkin in Vienna semis

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 27 Oct 2018
  • Kei Nishikori vs Mikhail Kukushkin is live from Vienna on Saturday, 27 October from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST
  • Nishikori has won all 7 previous meetings against Kukushkin
Kei Nishikori. (Photo by HANS PUNZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Kei Nishikori seeks his third final of the season when he takes on qualifier, Mikhail Kukushkin at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Saturday.

Nishikori has now reached the semi-finals in four of his last five tournaments, in what has been a very strong spell from the Japanese. He now up to ninth in the ATP's Race to London, and with Juan Martin del Potro all but certain to miss the Nitto ATP Finals due to injury, ninth place should be good enough to get him into London. There's still a bit of work to do, of course, both in Vienna, and at next week's Paris Masters, but Nishikori has put himself in an excellent position. Given the form he has shown since the US Open, the smart money would be on the world number 11 to continue this very good run of form and take his place in London for the fourth time.

Nishikori stuttered past Frances Tiafoe in three sets in the opening round in Vienna, but he has been almost untouchable since then, beating Karen Khachanov, who was coming off a title in Moscow, 6-2 6-2 in the second round, before dismissing a disappointing Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-1 in the quarter finals on Friday. The Japanese broke twice as he won the first five games in that quarter final, but Thiem eventually came to the party, winning three games in a row and moving up 0-40 on Nishikori's serve as the fifth seed served for the set. Nishikori stood firm under pressure, winning five points in a row to take the first set.

Just like the first set, Thiem dropped serve twice to fall into a 4-0 hole, and there was no attempted comeback this time as the rock solid Nishikori completed a straightforward win in an hour and nine minutes. Nishikori won over 65% of points on both his first and second serves, while he limited Thiem to a paltry 6 of 23 on second serve points. The 28-year-old improves to 39-17 for the season, having worked his way back to top form after his injury problems in 2017, when he ended his season early due to a wrist problem.

Having already made finals in Monte Carlo and Tokyo this season, can he make it three finals for the season by beating Kazakhstani qualifier, Kukushkin?


World number 71, Kukushkin booked his spot in his first ATP 500 semi-final with a hard-fought 4-6 7-6 7-6 victory over Marton Fucsovics on Friday.

Mikhail Kukushkin. (Photo by HANS PUNZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Kukushkin and Fucsovics combined for the longest match of the tournament, with the qualifier coming through after three hours and 21 minutes. It continues a superb week for the 30-year-old, who had earlier beaten Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev in the opening two rounds.

Kukushkin is through to his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season, adding to his run in Eastbourne, where he defeated Alex De Minaur, David Ferrer and Kyle Edmund before falling to Mischa Zverev in the last four.

He also made quarter finals in Pune and Lyon, while he notably reached the third round of the US Open, where lost to John Millman after taking out Noah Rubin and Hyeon Chung in the earlier rounds.

While he hasn't made any tour-level final this year, let alone claim a title, Kukushkin enjoyed some success in the Challenger Tour, winning the Irving Challenger following victory over Matteo Berrettini in the final. The Kazakhstani, who claimed his only ATP World Tour title in St. Petersburg in 2010, is looking to reach his fourth ATP World Tour final, with his most recent coming in Sydney in 2015.

Kukushkin goes into Saturday's Basel semi-final against Nishikori as a firm underdog, as he has lost all seven previous meeting between the two, and taken just two sets in the process. Nishikori has won the last 12 sets. Kukushkin has had a brilliant week, but so has Nishikori. The latter's dynamic baseline game has been firing all week, and he should be too good for Kukushkin on Saturday.

Kei Nishikori vs Mikhail Kukushkin is live from Vienna on Saturday, 27 October from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST

*Geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify.


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Nishikori vs Kukushkin ATP Vienna Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: In-form Nishikori takes on qualifier Kukushkin in Vienna semis

Kei Nishikori takes on Mikhail Kukushkin in the semi-finals of the Erste Bank Open on Saturday. Will Nishikori advance to his third final of the season? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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