You know you’ve arrived on the big stage when your tennis odds are the same as Roger Federer’s. Kei Nishikori, the No. 5-ranked player on the ATP Tour, has joined No. 2 Federer near the top of the odds list for this week’s Masters 1000 stop in Madrid; the two are tied at 9/2 as we go to press, tucked in behind World’s No. 4 Rafael Nadal at 13/8.
The clay courts at Park Manzanares play a role in these odds. Nadal will be in his element as the defending and four-time champion. Clay is Federer’s most troubling surface; however, he’s won twice at Madrid (2009, 2012) since the event was last played on indoor hardcourts in 2008. Federer is also coming off an ATP 250 Series victory in Istanbul, as he prepares for the French Open later this month.
Nishikori is comfortable with both the clay and the hardcourts, and his star is on the rise after beating Federer in the Round of 16 at the 2013 Madrid Open, then nearly beating Nadal at last year’s final before retiring in the third set. However, the Japanese native remains 0-7 lifetime against Nadal, including 0-2 on clay.