We’re down to the last four contenders in the final Masters 1000 event of the season, the BNP Paribas Masters at the Palais Omnisport in Bercy, Paris.
The previously confusing set of scenarios for the World Tour Finals in London in just over a week's time has been cleared up, with Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori all booking their spots at the O2 in a week’s time.
Grigor Dimitrov has refused to be an alternate for London, as apparently he has better things to do in the middle of November – and he probably has to be fair.
Friday’s bet of the day was a late night winner when Nishikori edged past David Ferrer in what had become a straight fight for the last place in London after Raonic had unexpectedly beaten Roger Federer earlier in the day.
Novak Djokovic vs Kei Nishikori
The Japanese star’s reward for that post-midnight show against Ferrer is a short recovery time and a meet with world number one Djokovic, who will be up for a spot of revenge here.
Nishikori took down the Serb at the US Open a couple of months ago and the obvious call here is to assume that with much more rest under his belt and a desire to put things straight, plus the quest for the year end number one ranking, that Novak’s desire would be the greater here.
But Nishikori shouldn’t be written off so quickly here.
The US Open finalist has a steely determination that doesn’t always reveal itself in his on court demeanour and that is obvious by his incredible three set record in which he’s now won 16 this year and lost just one (plus one retirement).
Also, would you want to back a 1.20 shot who has never beaten his opponent on a hard court and has a losing career record against them?
Nishikori was very leaky with unforced errors last night against Ferrer, but if you can beat a determined Ferrer whilst hitting over 60 unforced errors you’re doing something right and he definitely has a shot today despite the lack of rest.
We’ve seen Kei perform such feats in the past, most notably in Miami when, after beating Grigor Dimitrov he beat Ferrer in a three hour marathon, then came back the next day and beat Federer from a set behind.
Admittedly, that was back in the spring when energies were higher, but he has only played three matches since October 5, so he really shouldn’t be that tired.
Kei’s superb ball striking worries every player in the game and if he can cut down on those errors he has a fine chance of at least making a real match of this against an opponent who hasn’t beaten him since the 2010 French Open.
Djokovic was briefly tested early on yesterday by Andy Murray, who was unable to sustain his challenge after being broken at the end of the opener, and the Scot faded away badly in set two of that one.
So, we haven’t really seen the Serb tested too greatly this week other than a whirlwind few minutes from Gael Monfils, but we should see it today.
The 2.23 about Nishikori winning a set or the 4.50 about winning the match look the ones here.
Back Nishikori +1.5 sets to beat Djokovic at 2.23