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On Wednesday, world No. 23 Kei Nishikori takes on three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the round of 32 at the Cincinnati Masters.
Nishikori faced Andrey Rublev in the round of 64, and the 2014 US Open runner-up won 7-5, 6-3 in impressive fashion. The 28-year-old won 73 percent of his first serve points, and 63 percent of the points on his second serve.
It was a big win for Nishikori, who suffered a disappointing opening-round loss against Robin Haase in Toronto. The fact that his serve was the catalyst was even bigger, as he'll need that to be a weapon if he is going to beat Wawrinka on Wednesday.
Wawrinka faced Diego Schwartzman in his first match in Cincinnati. It wasn't easy for the 33-year-old, but he did come away with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 win. Being that Wawrinka was away from the game for so long with a knee injury, it's great to see him winning some matches now. The only way he is going to get back to the top is by playing more.
He also happened to play some of his best tennis of the year in Toronto last week. Wawrinka made it all the way to the round of 16, where he lost 7-5, 7-6 (4) against Rafael Nadal. Hanging around in a match against a player like Rafa was a great sign for Stan The Man.
As for this match, Nishikori and Wawrinka have split wins in their eight meetings against one another. But Nishikori will be the more confident player, as he has won each of their past two meetings. Both matches were on hard courts, and Wawrinka didn't win a set in either of them. Still, Wawrinka knows he'll have a shot to win as long as he plays the way he has been the past two weeks. This match can easily go either way.
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