The last time the ATP-12 titleist competed on court was a few months ago at this year's 2019 U.S. Open. Kei Nishikori was knocked out in four sets by Australia's Alex de Minaur and admitted he gave a lackluster performance.
"He was playing great defense and I ended up making many errors..." Nishikori explained. But it was 59 unforced errors to be exact which may not have been the main reason for his loss. The arm and elbow injury the 29-year-old developed has plagued him since the French Open leaving him with 'swelling and fluid in the elbow.'
The pain and discomfort was off and on causing him to doubt his ability to play at nearly 100%. Doctors ordered him last month in September to literally stop playing for four weeks. He abided by their restrictions hoping to be able to make the European indoor tournaments but the pain and uneasiness was too much for him to play.
A charity match was scheduled with Roger Federer for mid-October but had to be dismissed because of the Japanese's intermittent painful arm and elbow. Nishikori wasn't able to participate in the charity event or others saying "I am so sad to say that I will not be able to play the Japan Open, Shanghai Masters.
The Asian Swing is....my favorite time of the year and I will work hard to come back stronger." He was also removed from the Japan Davis Cup team. The 8th ranked ATP player tried feverishly to just rest the arm and elbow taking time out but as his manager Olivier van Lindonk had said "..time has proven that rest and rehab was not enough."
He had to withdraw from five tournaments leaving him no other choice but skipping his participation on tour. October 22nd, Kei Nishikori underwent elbow surgery. As his manager van Lindonk had explained it was a "small procedure removing two small bone spurs in the elbow."
Recently the no. 1 ranked Japanese had released his coach of nine years, Dante Bottini but has kept on Michael Chang of whom joined the coaching team since 2014. Kei Nishikori is now recovering and starting rehab anticipating return to tour pain-free, something he hasn't had in months.
It is possible for him to return with the Inaugural ATP Cup in January. The road back to competition may be a bumpy one but success has been seen with many players. Nishikori is confident that he will fall within the range of players that have had accomplished performances after elbow surgery such as Kevin Anderson nearly six years ago and currently Novak Djokovic having his operation last year.
Nishikori has many more goals to strive for since being on tour for 12 years and one may be capturing a grand slam title possibly this coming 2020 season.