Japan’s Kei Nishikori feels like he is in the second stage of his career after the last few years were interrupted by injuries but the 31-year-old says his goal remains to get back to the top echelons of the sport.
Nishikori became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam singles final at the 2014 US Open but, plagued by injuries, he has struggled for consistency and has fallen to No.41 in the world.
“If I want to come back to my level before, I have to be tough,” Nishikori told reporters on Tuesday after taking down 13th-ranked Belgian David Goffin 6-3 7-6(3) in the ATP 500 event in Dubai.
“I try to think this is my second journey. I’ve had many injuries. This is a new journey for me, I have to be happy.”
The aggressive baseliner rose to a career-high ranking of fourth for the first time in 2015.
The last time he was ranked in the top 10 was in October 2018 but a year later Nishikori underwent elbow surgery and spent 10 months on the sidelines.
He targeted a return at the 2020 US Open but pulled out after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.