Watch: Kei Nishikori works on his comeback

Kei Nishikori should return to action in a couple of weeks

by Jovica Ilic
Watch: Kei Nishikori works on his comeback

Former world no. 4 Kei Nishikori works hard on his comeback! The Japanese embraced a practice session at the IMG Academy ahead of his long-awaited return at the Little Rock Challenger at the end of May. The 33-year-old has not played since October 2021, struggling with injuries and undergoing hip surgery in January 2022.

If everything goes well, Nishikori will enter Little Rock, Tyler and Puerto Rico, hoping to win some matches and gain confidence. Kei claimed his first ATP title in Delray Beach 2008 at 18 years and one month. The Japanese became the youngest ATP champion since Lleyton Hewitt in Adelaide 1998!

Kei overcame injuries and stayed in the top-20 for years, playing his best tennis between 2012 and the 2019 US Open before experiencing more setbacks that ruined his career. Nishikori scored 29 victories in 2019 and competed at the US Open as a top-10 player.

He lost to Alex de Minaur in the third round and underwent right elbow surgery in October. The Japanese played only six matches in September 2020, struggling to find form and losing to Stefano Travaglia in the Roland Garros second round.

Nishikori made a fresh comeback at the start of 2021 and played 43 matches that season. He lost all three encounters at the ATP Cup and the Australian Open before reaching the Rotterdam quarter-final, falling to Borna Coric in two tie breaks.

Kei was in another quarter-final in Dubai and returned to the top-40 with those points.

Kei Nishikori is preparing his comeback, which should happen soon.

Rafael Nadal halted him in Barcelona after a great battle, and the Japanese fell to Alexander Zverev in three notable clay events in Madrid, Rome and Paris.

The grass swing saw Nishikori winning two matches, looking better at the home Olympic event in Tokyo. Kei scored three victories to advance into the last eight and move closer to a medal. Still, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic proved too strong and beat the home star 6-2, 6-0 in 70 minutes.

Kei traveled to Washington and carried his Tokyo form to reach the first semi-final of the season. Nishikori lost to Mackenzie McDonald in the third set's closing stages and missed a chance to fight for the trophy. Making one last push, Kei kept Novak on the court for three and a half hours at the US Open.

Seven years after their semi-final duel, two rivals met in the third round, and Novak prevailed 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 after saving 11 out of 13 break points. As it turned out, Kei played only one more tournament after this valiant effort, suffering an early Indian Wells loss and finishing the season.

The Japanese underwent hip surgery in January last year and has not played since, losing all the ATP points and missing a spot on the ATP rankings list only for the second time in a career. Kei left the ATP ranking list in October last year after not playing for 12 months.

Nishikori is eager to make another push at 33, and we should follow his progress when he finally returns to action.

Kei Nishikori