Tuesday Match Previews: Nishikori vs Fritz; Ostapenko vs Sevastova

Tuesday Match Previews: Nishikori vs Fritz; Ostapenko vs Sevastova

Taylor Fritz has been turning some heads this clay court season

Kei Nishikori (ATP No. 7, UTR No. 9)  vs. Taylor Fritz (ATP No. 58, UTR No. 78)

Fritz has been turning some heads this clay court season. Not known as the best dirt baller, Fritz has defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Diego Schwartzman and Reilly Opelka on clay so far this season. He is playing with much more confidence on the slower surface, even though clay doesn't suit his game very well. 

Nishikori, a two-time Barcelona champion, is more than capable on clay. His quickness and supreme shot-making work on any surface. But don’t be surprised if Fritz has Nishikori on the ropes at some point during the match. Nishikori’s backhand may be his best shot, but Fritz can go backhand to backhand with anyone in the world. 

The world No. 7 has been struggling as of late, having not won a consecutive matches since Rotterdam in February, while Fritz picked up some momentum in Monte Carlo. They have played once before, in the 2016 Memphis final, which Nishikori won 6-4, 6-4, but Fritz is a far superior player than he was as an 18-year-old. Nishikori will likely find a way to win, but expect Fritz to at least snag a set. 

Jelena Ostapenko (WTA No. 29, UTR No. 101) vs. Anastasija Sevastova (WTA No. 13, UTR No. 35)

In the only career meeting between Latvia’s two top players, Ostapenko was forced to withdraw down a set due to an injury. Ostapenko’s form has not been great in 2019; she owns a middling 7-11 record. She has only won consecutive matches once this season, two weeks ago in Charleston. Sevastova has played just one match on clay so far this season: a convincing 6-4, 6-2 loss to world No. 78 Jessica Pegula.

While Sevastova is a heavy favorite according to both UTR and WTA rankings, this may be Ostapenko’s match to lose. Sevastova is an extremely fit and consistent player, but she lacks the firepower to outright end the point on a slower surface, while Ostapenko is a former Roland Garros champion and can finish a point anytime she wants. 

The contrast of styles make for an exciting matchup; don't be surprised if Ostapenko upsets her fellow Latvian on the indoor clay in Stuttgart.