Nishikori Sets Wimbledon Goal
Japanese star faces tough opening test
Kei Nishikori, seeded fifth at Wimbledon, is hoping that a different preparation schedule leading up to the event will help him reach the quarter-finals at the All-England Club for first time.
“It's always been my goal to get to quarter-finals here because I haven't done really well in the grass court season,” said the Japanese star, whose Wimbledon run-up had been affected by an abdominal injury. “I got hurt in Halle and I couldn't play. I pulled out second round there. It was a little bit unfortunate. But if I can win couple matches with good tennis, I think I will get more confidence on grass, and I will get good rhythm on a grass court. The first couple of matches are very important for me here this week.
“I feel good. I had almost one week after I got injured to recover, so it should be fine. I have been practising really well these couple of days. Two days ago, I played two sets with Richard Gasquet. I should be okay for Monday. I’m not 100 per cent yet, but I am close.”
Nishikori, whose best result at Wimbledon is a fourth-round appearance in 2014, will have a tricky first-round test in the form of big-serving Aussie Sam Groth, who reached the third round last year. Nishikori won the pair’s lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting in Washington last year, but the fresh grass courts of Wimbledon may work in Groth’s favour.
“He is a tough first-round opponent, especially on grass. He has a great serve and is an aggressive player.”
Motivation to excel at the year’s third Grand Slam event has never been an issue for Nishikori, who feels the historic significance of the tournament whenever he sets foot on the lawns of SW19.
“Wimbledon has a lot of history. I think the first Grand Slam I learned about was Wimbledon. Whenever I come here, I feel something special. The only thing is that I haven't done really well here yet. If I can win more matches here, I think I will love it even more,” said Nishikori, who has reached the final eight or beyond at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and the US Open. “I like grass. It's not my best surface yet. But, as I said, I need more confidence to win a couple more matches. I think that's the only thing I need right now.”