Kei Nishikori was out of the top 200 rankings positions when he started competing again on the ATP Challenger Tour in January. The Japanese player was coming from a long wrist injury and he was unsure whether if he could compete at the highest level again.
And instead, he proved to be a champion, losing Monte Carlo final to Rafael Nadal and US Open semifinals to Novak Djokovic. 'I had the most difficulty with my feelings. For the first couple of months after comeback, I didn't have sharp feelings as before.
Honestly, the thought that my tennis career is over crossed my mind. I've got my feelings back slowly. My tennis was terrible until Monte Carlo Masters, it's only recently that I've started to play with confidence.
I'm not searching for perfection in my play this year', said Nishikori. Commenting on his win over the Frenchman Benoit Paire in Tokyo, the 28-year-old added: 'There were many ups and downs in the second set. There were some difficult moments, but I thought I handled it well, especially in the difficult moments I focused well and played well.
That's why I was able to win in two sets.' Nishikori also spoke about his chances to qualify for London ATP Finals: 'I think I focus more on each match because I'm still far away and I've got to win a big thing to go to the [Nitto] ATP Finals, so I've got to play one match at a time.
Hopefully, I can go to the Finals, but there are still four tournaments, and I'm taking it just one tournament at a time and we'll see.' After the Rakuten Open, Nishikori is committed to play in Shanghai, Vienna and Paris Masters before eventually the London ATP Finals in mid-November.