“Wasn’t Easy to Make Many Returns”: Kei Nishikori Reveals Court Conditions Following Win Over Reilly Opelka in Dubai

Published 03/14/2021, 12:58 PM EDT
Kei Nishikori of Japan playa a backhand his match against Grigor Dimitrov during day five of the 2019 Brisbane International at Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)


Japanese ace Kei Nishikori played his best match of the last couple of years as he defeated American Reilly Opelka in the first round of ATP Dubai Tennis Championships 2021. It was a brilliant win for Nishikori against an opponent with a potent serve on a fast and bouncy surface.

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In his on-court interview, Nishikori shared a few details about the surface. The surface in the 2021 Dubai Tennis Championships is very fast and bouncy, according to Nishikori.

“It wasn’t easy, especially against him, especially this court. It’s very fast with a high bounce,” said Nishikori.

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Kei Nishikori during his group stage match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Opelka is one of the fastest and biggest servers on the ATP tour. Because of his height, his serves are fast and bouncy, and thus coupled with the Dubai surface, it was tough to face him. But Nishikori did it well after being troubled in the initial games.

“It wasn’t easy to make many returns in my game but I think the couple of games when I broke him in the second and third [set] I played very solid.”

“I tried to step in a little more because [Opelka’s serve] bounces really high. He served really well, not easy to play against him,” he further added.

Kei Nishikori in action during his group stage match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Kei Nishikori: Insane numbers against Reilly Opelka

Moreover, Nishikori was in full flow as well. He went in with a mindset to minimize his errors and try to neutralize the big serve and shots of Opelka. Thus, Nishikori registered only four unforced errors in the whole match. The match lasted 96 minutes, but Nishikori only had four errors and that was the difference in the match.

Next, Nishikori will play David Goffin in the second round. The Japanese star enjoys a perfect 3-0 head-to-head against the Belgian.

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“I’m happy to play against him next. We’re good friends, he’s a nice guy. We always have good battles and play long matches. I’m expecting a tough one, but I’ll try to do my best.”

Kei Nishikori of Japan celebrates. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The 2021 season has started with promise for Nishikori. He has shown his old prowess and maybe in Dubai, the Nishikori of old might return.

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Bhavishya Mittal

955 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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