• Nishikori, Simon aim for BNP Paribas Masters quarters

    10/31/12 9:39 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Nishikori, Simon aim for BNP Paribas Masters quarters Gilles Simon has already taken advantage of Roger Federer's absence in Paris. Kei Nishikori will look to do the same on Thursday as he battles Simon in the third round.

    Kei Nishikori and Gilles Simon will be squaring off for the first time in their careers when the collide in the third round of the BNP Paribas Masters on Thursday.

    The two competitors find themselves in the top section of the draw vacated by Roger Federer. Simon has already capitalized on the opportunity. After getting past Marcos Baghdatis in round one, the 20th-ranked Frenchman faced Victor Hanescu instead of Federer and prevailed 7-5, 6-3. Simon is now 42-24 for the season.

    Nishikori is wrapping up the best year of his career and he has climbed to No. 16 in the world, currently one sport off his career-high. Recent highlights for Japan's top player include a semifinal fish in Kuala Lumpur and a title in Tokyo. Nishikori improved his 2012 record to 37-18 by dismissing Benoit Paire 7-6(2), 6-2 on Tuesday.

    This could go either way, with Nishikori owning a slight edge in current form and Simon heating up and playing at home in France. Look for Simon to score a minor upset after three sets.

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