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No Crash, All “Burn” from Kei Nishikori

If ever there was a time for Kei Nishikori’s new Wilson Burn racquet to perform, today was it.

Coming into Monday’s third round match, Nishikori had never beaten his opponent, Fernando Verdasco – though they hadn’t competed since 2012, a time predating the Japanese star’s meteoric rise towards the top of the men’s game.

Today certainly marked a change in that head-to-head. The scoreline ultimately fell in the No. 5 seed’s favor, a tight 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-4 decision.

The victory adds to the aura surrounding Nishikori and his newfound ability to dominate when matches extend three and five sets. In 2014 he played 30 deciding sets, winning 27 of them.

“Wow,” Nishikori said of the match, elaborating with, “I try to concentrate, especially first couple of games. I usually do well to break the [serve] game. And, I try to think a lot what I did do well and what I do wrong, and make sure that before I play first points of third set that what I have to do is there.”

In other words, he fights.

In a Wilson demo earlier in the week in Palm Desert, California, Nishikori explained to those in attendance that his new Burn 95 has helped his game improve by leaps and bounds. He talked at length on how the racquet helped produce more spin and more power, “especially on my serve,” he said, adding, “I get more free points and aces.”

During the Monday afternoon slugfest, Nishikori served four aces to Verdasco’s five.

The Burn racquet line definitely targets baseliners like the US Open runner-up. With a few points differentiating winners from losers in any given match, added power that allows a player to swing faster and keep their shots inside the lines is always welcome.

Nishikori credits the racquet switch with his good results to start the season.

In the last few weeks, he won Memphis and reached the final in Acapulco – where he lost to a steady David Ferrer. The season began with a solid run to the semifinals in Brisbane – losing there to frequent rival, Milos Raonic – and matched his career-best result at the Australian Open before falling to last year’s winner, Stan Wawrinka, in the quarterfinals. In Davis Cup earlier this month, Nishikori turned the tables on Raonic and Team Canada, winning both his singles matches.

Like most other world-class players, Nishikori only thinks about the match in front of him. How far does he think he’ll go in Indian Wells?

“I hope I can go farther,” he said. “I try to play one match at a time and see who’s coming next. I am feeling confidence and play two good matches here. Hopefully I can go further.”

Earlier in the week, Nishikori took out resurgent American, Ryan Harrison, 6-4, 6-4. Next for the No. 5 seed is either No. 12 seed Feliciano Lopez (Nishikori leads 3-2) or No. 20 Pablo Cuevas (Nishikori leads 1-0).

The No. 5 seed reached a career-high of No. 4 on March 3, breaking into territory commonly known to as The Big Four. Nishikori is the highest ranked Asian player in the history of the ATP.

“I really served well in the third set,” Kei said about his efforts today against the lefty Verdasco. “Until last game I didn’t face break points. Yeah, I finish well. So really happy to beat Fernando.”

Apparently the Burn has turned the already rising star – and perhaps a future No. 1 – into a more confident commodity who feels only too comfortable playing with fire.

What do you think of Nishikori’s season, and his new Wilson Burn stick? Learn more about the technology behind the line on the official Wilson website!

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About Jane Voigt (89 Articles)
Jane Voigt is a recognized tennis journalist who has covered the pro game for over 12 years. She created and owns DownTheTee.com, and has contributed to TennisGrandstand.com, WorldTennisMagazine,com, TennisWeek.com, Tennis Week Magazine, TennisServer.com, and Tennis.com.

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