Kei Nishikori Optimistic About Returning to Top-10 Rankings Following Early Exit at Australian Open 2021

Published 02/24/2021, 6:32 AM EST
Tennis – ATP Cup – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Kei Nishikori reacts during his group stage match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake


It’s been a nightmarish start to the 2021 season for Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori. 

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Coming into the Australian Open with hopes of progressing to the tournament’s business-end, Nishikori suffered an ignominious first-round exit after losing in straight sets to rising Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.

However, not one to be consumed by self-pity and self-doubt, the 43rd-ranked Japanese is looking to put his setbacks aside and focus on what’s in front, which is to break back into the Top-10 and put himself in contention for more titles.

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Nishikori says he was happy with his game despite early exit at Australian Open

Nishikori has racked up three losses already this season, and many would have wished him a lighter opponent than the 16th-ranked Spaniard in the opening round at Melbourne Park.

Kei Nishikori of Japan reacts during his Men’s Singles third round match Alex de Minaur of Australia on day five of the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

However, in an interview with a Japanese publication, Nishikori revealed that even as he came away from the park after the first-round loss, he felt his game was close to where he wanted it to be.

He said that his first thought after returning to the locker room was that he could “win more than ever before”, adding that his “feeling of catching the ball, the ball line and various things were good.”

Kei Nishikori hopes to make a strong statement at ATP Rotterdam

Nishikori added that if he can take his game a notch higher than where it was during his first-round defeat to Busta, he would be able to return to the Top-10.

One would be advised not to rush to pass judgment on the Japanese on the evidence of just one tournament as he was coming off a shoulder injury that he had sustained during the French Open last year.

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However, the Japanese said he hopes to return stronger than ever at the ATP 500 event at Rotterdam, which starts on March 1.

While Nishikori failed to keep the Japanese flag flying in the men’s half of the draw at the Australian Open, his compatriot Naomi Osaka more than made up for it by clinching the women’s singles title at Melbourne Park. 

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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