MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Kei Nishikori was hopeful of claiming Grand Slam glory this year despite being ousted from the Australian Open in the fourth round on Sunday.
Nishikori, troubled by a knee injury, was outclassed 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 by super-consistent Spaniard David Ferrer, the fifth-ranked player in the world.
For Nishikori, it was a disappointing outing after last year’s run to the last eight, which went down as the best-ever performance by a Japanese man.
“I tried to go aggressive, but I think I forced it too much,” he said. “So I was missing too many (shots), making too many unforced errors. And also he was playing well. He didn’t miss much, and he gets every ball.
“Yeah, it was tough for me to play.”
It was a difficult defeat to swallow after Nishikori, the world No. 18, came into the match with a winning record against Ferrer including victories at the 2008 U.S. Open and last year’s Olympics, held at Wimbledon.
Nishikori said he was “a little bit” bothered by the left knee injury which forced him out of this month’s Brisbane International and which needed treatment on court.
But the 23-year-old said he was getting close to improving his record against top-10 opposition, against whom he has now lost seven of his last nine matches, and making another deep run at a Grand Slam.
“It’s getting close, but, you know, there’s a little more work to do. Hopefully I can beat them in a Grand Slam some time,” Nishikori said.
He added: “That’s my next goal, to get to a quarterfinal, semifinal in a Grand Slam. The French Open is always tough for me to play, on clay courts.
“But, yeah, for sure I have a chance if I play my best tennis.”
Nishikori’s defeat ends Japanese singles interest in the competition after Kimiko Date-Krumm’s age-defying run ended at the hands of Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski on Saturday.