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Nishikori has high expectations for Australian Open

Kyodo

Kei Nishikori said Tuesday he is confident he can improve on his singles quarterfinal finish last year at the Australian Open.

The world No. 18 player will compete in the Kooyong Classic, his final warmup event for the season’s first Grand Slam, which begins at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

“I want to play well and be ready for next week,” said Nishikori, who reached the final eight at the Australia Open last year before falling to current world No. 3 Andy Murray. “At the Australian Open, I believe I can surpass my results from last year.”

The 23-year-old reached the semifinals at the season-opening Brisbane International last week, but forfeited his match in the second set against the top-seeded Murray due to inflammation in his left knee.

It remains to be seen whether Nishikori will be fit enough to play in the leadup event with his first match coming against world No. 6 Tomas Berdych on Tuesday, let alone make it through the grind in the sweltering heat in Melbourne next week.

“I won’t know until I play, but I feel I’ll be able to,” he said.