Clutch Kei Reigning Again In 2019

Kei is so very clutch. Kei Nishikori has found himself in a winner-take-all deciding set tie-break three times so far in 2019. Three times he has triumphed, including twice at the Australian Open in 10-point Match Tie-breaks. The tie-breaks, which are first to 10, win by two, were implemented for the first time this year to settle five-set matches that reach 6-6 in the fifth.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the best performers in tie-breaks from the past 52 weeks identifies that the Japanese star leads the ATP Tour with tie-breaks won at 77.8 per cent.

Nishikori’s Deciding Set Tie-breaks Won In 2019

Tournament

Round

Opponent

Score

BNP Paribas Open

Round of 64

d. Adrian Mannarino

6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4)

Australian Open

Round of 16

d. Pablo Carreno Busta

6-7(8), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-6(8)

Australian Open

Round of 64

d. Ivo Karlovic

6-3, 7-6(6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(7)

Nishikori’s tie-break record in 2018 from Roland Garros to the end of the season was a jaw-dropping 14-2. From Roland Garros to the Round of 16 at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, he was a perfect 12-0 in tie-breaks, including going five-for-five in his first four matches at Wimbledon.

Past 52 Weeks: Tie-Breaks Won / Win Percentage

Jumping up the list into a tie for fifth place after the Miami Open presented by Itau is 18-year-old Canadian sensation Felix Auger-Aliassime. He was 4-3 with tie-breaks won in 2019 coming into Miami, then won a tie-break in four matches leading to the semi-finals, where he lost to John Isner 7-6(3), 7-6(4).

Isner actually played nine tie-breaks in Miami, winning them all. Four of his matches were decided only with tie-breaks. Despite that streak, he owns the 29th best tie-break record in the past 52 weeks with a win percentage at 57.7 per cent.

Milos Raonic is second on the list, having played 11 tie-breaks to begin the year at the Brisbane International and the Australian Open, and winning nine, including five in a row.

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Daniil Medvedev is third, and is currently enjoying a career-high ATP ranking at No. 14. He is 7-3 in 2018 with tie-breaks won, including defeating Reilly Opelka 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-6(0) in Miami. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic sits fourth on the list, winning both recent tie-breaks he played in Indian Wells and Miami.

Four players are tied for fifth with a win percentage of 66.7 per cent. They are Taylor Fritz, Auger-Aliassime, Juan Martin del Potro and Fabio Fognini.

World No. 3 Alexander Zverev is ninth on the list, winning 65 per cent of his tie-breaks in the past 52 weeks. Zverev won the Nitto ATP Finals in London in November, winning four tie-breaks against Marin Cilic, Isner and Roger Federer en route to the title.

Jumping into the 10th spot with 64.7 per cent is 29-year-old Moldovan Radu Albot. He has impressively won his last nine tie-breaks in a row, including defeating Daniel Evans 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7) in the Delray Beach final in February.

Triumphing in tie-breaks seems like a 50-50 proposition after such a close set, but these players manage to find another gear and dominate their opponents right at the finish line.

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