A year ago, Kei Nishikori had been ranked outside the top-25 before working on his comeback, reaching the quarter-final at Wimbledon, the semi-final at the US Open and the final in Tokyo and another one in Vienna, earning enough points to enter the ATP Finals as an alternate and losing two of three matches there.
Managing to avoid bigger injuries that had plagued his game in the past, the Japanese has found the way to notch 23 wins so far in 2019, winning the title in Brisbane after nine straight losses in the ATP finals before retiring at the Australian Open against Novak Djokovic, his only in the current season so far.
The results were not there for Nishikori in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo, raising his level after that to reach the semis in Barcelona and quarters in Rome and Paris, overcoming two tough challenges to find himself in the last eight at Roland Garros.
Spending more than eight hours on the court in the previous two matches, Kei stood no chance against Roland Garros king Rafael Nadal who beat him 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, with the Japanese struggling with a right upper arm injury that prevented him from showing more against Rafa.
Scheduled to play his next tournament in Halle, Kei has decided to skip the first event on the grass season after six consecutive appearances there, needing more time to heal his hand and wanting to avoid poor performance and injuries that had happened to him in Halle in the past.
Kei has intentions to return in the next three years, signing a new deal with Halle and hoping to get back stronger in 2020. Nishikori was the semi-finalist at this tournament in 2014 and 2015 before three terrible years, withdrawing before the second round in 2016, retiring against Karen Khachanov in 2017 and winning just four games against the same rival last June.