Matchups We Want To See In Canada

5 of 7

Kei Nishikori vs. Rafael Nadal

Aug 8, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Kei Nishikori celebrates after his match against Marin Cilic (not pictured) in a men

Projected Meeting: Quarterfinal

2014 was undoubtedly a breakout year for Nishikori. He claimed four tour titles, competed in his first grand slam final at the US Open and reached a career high ranking of no. 5.

Still, there was one blemish on his season record that surely left a sour taste in his mouth amidst a fantastic year: the Madrid final.

In Madrid last year, Nishikori progressed to his first Masters final, where he would meet Rafael Nadal. He entered the championship match as the undisputed underdog. Yet, he overcome his opponent’s home crowd advantage and illustrious clay court record to storm to a 6-2, 4-2 lead. Playing aggressive tennis, while retrieving all of Nadal’s nasty forehands and refusing to make mistakes, the Japanese star looked determined to clinch his first Masters title.

But in a cruel twist of fate, Nishikori sustained a back injury, in the seventh game of the second set, that severely hindered his movement. As his game is built on aggressive counterpunching and outstanding movement, the injury proved fatal for Nishikori. Nadal then took the second set and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third. Accepting that the title was completely out of his grasp, Nishikori retired in the third set.

Due in part to Nadal’s frequent injury issues over the past year, Nishikori and Nadal haven’t met since then. That may change in Canada, though, with the two slated to meet in the quarterfinals. They are also the top seeds in their section of the draw, so they will be the strong favourites to make it through.

And with a title in Washington under his belt, and no injuries holding him back, Nishikori may get the chance to avenge his loss in Madrid.

(Premature) Prediction: Nishikori in 3.

Next: Thiem vs Djokovic