Barcelona, Spain, April 24 (IANS) Japan’s Kei Nishikori on Tuesday confirmed that his goal is to return to the top 10 of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings, following his recovery from a wrist injury that kept him off the court for around six months.
Two-time Barcelona Open champion Nishikori moved up 14 spots to World No.22 in this week’s ATP rankings based on his strong showing at the Monte-Carlo Masters, where he made it all the way to the final round on Sunday but lost to World No.1 Rafael Nadal of Spain, reports Efe.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Barcelona tournament, 14th-seed Nishikori admitted he does not expect to be a top-10 player again this year, but that his good result at Monte-Carlo has given him motivation.
Nishikori said his lower position puts him in some tough matches in the first rounds in Barcelona, but Monte-Carlo was a good test for him and he expects to play well.
On the possibility of once again facing Nadal, who won the last two Barcelona titles and has 10 career wins to his name there, Kei stressed that while the Spaniard is currently having a great moment, the Japanese player has been able to beat him twice before. Nishikori added that he enjoys playing against him.
Before facing Nadal in Barcelona, Nishikori is to go up against another Spaniard in the first round on Wednesday, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who on Monday defeated Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 7-6, 7-6.
While Garcia-Lopez is ranked world No.69 at the moment, Nishikori noted that Spanish players do very well on clay, which makes the tournament hard for him and for players like Serbia’s Novak Djokovic or Austria’s Dominic Thiem.