"It's time for a new voice," Kei Nishikori had said after splitting with his coach Dante Botti after nine years. What makes a player split with their coach? Disagreements? Not reaching their goals? It could be a combination of both.
Nishikori knows that the time has come for him to perform successfully like he had been doing years ago. Under Botti's coaching, he has won 12 ATP titles, went as high as being 4th ranked in the world and made it to the U.S.
Open final in 2014. He had said on his social media page that "After 9 years of working together literally a day in and day out, I have decided it is time for a new voice. I am forever grateful for Dante's contributions to my career and we will obviously remain very close friends."
But this season was stressful and not as productive as Nishikori have wanted it to be. He wasn't able to qualify for the ATP Finals in London this year whereas last year he was at the season-ending event dismantling Roger Federer in straight sets.
This year he is plagued with an elbow injury and the last time played was at the U.S. Open and gave Tokyo and Shanghai a miss. The beginning of this season looked bright and promising for Nishikori as he won the Brisbane title, but went sour having to retire at the Australian Open in the quarterfinal to Novak Djokovic with a thigh ailment.
The Serbian felt relieved that he had at least won a match over Nishikori in their last 15 meets. He says "I love to battle especially against Kei, we have played so many matches in our careers...I hope he can recover and it is something very serious that will take too long," Djokovic said feeling sorry for him.
Nishikori saw himself losing at Rotterdam in the semifinals to Stan Wawrinka but made it to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon for two straight years. The Japanese has recently pulled out of Vienna bothered by a pesty elbow ailment and everyone wonders if he will even be able to play in Paris or the Davis Cup Finals.
Nishikori's issues will have to be resolved in order to bring out a successful end season participation. He will have to get another coach, heal his elbow troubles and feel strong again to face his competitors and bring forth a consistent ending to his up and down 2019 season.