Kei Nishikori vs Steve Johnson ATP Picks and Tips - 7/6/2019
Kei Nishikori vs Steve Johnson
5 am EST, 6th July 2019
Even though he won both matches in straight sets, I'd still say that Kei Nishikori looked far from impressive in Wimbledon so far. One of the reasons why has to do something with his absence from the tour since the end of Roland Garros. He decided to skip all the tournaments that could help him adjust to these conditions and from what I've seen so far, it was a poor decision on his behalf. Judging by the result only, you might think that he played really well vs Cameron Norrie. But the truth is, Norrie hasn't done anything to challenge him in that match. Young Brit simply doesn't have the power to put somebody like Nishikori under pressure. His strong points are agility and solid baseline play, but that is something Nishikori can match stride for stride easily. He had way more problems with Thiago Monteiro in the first round. Although Brazilian is a very similar player to Norrie, he does deliver a bit more in the power department and it immediately showed on the scoreboard, with him being able to stay close in every set. The Japanese player has a decent record at Wimbledon (17-9) and is defending a quarterfinal appearance from last year when he lost to Novak Djokovic.
Steve Johnson will be by far his toughest opponent so far. American has been flying under the radar in this past couple of weeks. He didn't have any big results, but he played some solid grass court tennis. Opened his grass court season in Stuttgart, losing very close to Gael Monfils. Then traveled to Halle where he defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber before getting eliminated by Alexander Zverev. Had another 1-1 in Eastbourne, beating Opelka before admitting superiority to Hubert Hurkacz. His second round match in All England Club was one of the most exciting in the second round. There was some heavy money pouring in on Alex De Minaur all the way to "kickoff", but I am sure those bettors regretted underestimating Johnson. Looking at some statistical parameters, he wasn't much better than De Minaur. But he played his best tennis when it mattered the most and that is why he ended up on top in that one.
Most of the American players are dangerous on grass court because of their big game. But with Johnson, raw power is not the only thing that makes him such a tough opponent in these conditions. He has a very good backhand slice and knows how to move towards the net after it. His point construction on this surface is smart and productive, which explains the 2 titles on grass courts. He never won a match against Nishikori in 4 attempts so far, but all of those were in seasons between 2014 and 2016. Many things happened since then and these two guys are not the same players they were back then. I believe Johnson has the tools to really test Nishikori in this one. If he comes up with a smart gameplan involving a constant change of rhythm, giving different looks to the opponent, and not allowing him to settle behind the baseline, he will stay competitive and might even cause an upset.
Betting odds & prediction
Nishikori opened as a massive -450 favorite, but that already got corrected slightly by the market. Odds are based on that outdated H2H record and Nishikori being a much bigger name. But, Johnson is flying under the radar here. He played way better on grass courts then his results are showing. And he has the game to disrupt Kei and really push him. Spread is +5.5 at the moment, while the total is sitting at 36.5. I don't see this one ending in straight sets.
Tony's Pick: over 36.5 games (-110)
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