Nishikori is in the Top 10
Melbourne, Miami, Barcelona and Madrid prove Kei Nishikori belongs in the top 10. His talent and recent consistency have Nishikori taking advantage of a year of upheaval in the tennis pecking order. Michael Chang’s influence as coach has to be lauded as well. Nishikori could become King of Spain (didn’t the Police sing a similar song?) with a win in Madrid to go with his Barcelona title.
Nadal Restoring Order
The draw in Madrid has been decimated by Djokovic and Federer’s departures. Andy Murray has never been a clay court maestro. Still, one of the Big Four is in the final and is the favorite. Nadal’s clay court results have been preternaturally excellent. His recent stumbles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona can move much further into the past with a title today.
Nishikori’s confidence and game should be sky high so long as his back holds up in the final. Rafa also had some back issues in 2014. Nadal has never enjoyed the altitude (or one time blue surface) in Madrid. A win at a fast clay court after his struggles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona would mean a lot to Rafa. On clay, one favorite has existed since 2005. I’d be foolish to pick against that decade of dominance. It should be a good match, but my prediction is Rafael Nadal d. Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5.