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Nishikori targets semifinal sweep

Kyodo

Kei Nishikori, who this year became the first Japanese man to reach a Grand Slam final, said Saturday that one of his goals for 2015 will be to reach the semis in all four Grand Slam tourneys.

“One goal is to at least reach the semifinals in all of them (the four Grand Slam events),” Nishikori told reporters after holding a public practice at the IMG Academy.

This past January, Nishikori fell in the fourth round at the Australian Open after losing to top seed Rafael Nadal.

“I was able to come away from that match with a good feeling,” Nishikori said. “That boosted my confidence and I changed to a more attacking brand of tennis.”

After Melbourne, Nishikori turned on the jets, winning his first career clay court title in Barcelona on April 21. He followed that with a tour de force at the Madrid Masters, where he retired from the final leading 3-0 in the third set with the match tied one set apiece. Nadal won the championship but said afterward that Nishikori had him beaten.

Nishikori, who is now ranked fifth in the world, had a shorter offseason than usual due to his playing in the elite eight-man ATP Tour Finals for the first time. Since then, he has been getting additional help from one of his coaches, former French Open champion Michael Chang.

“It is no problem that my offseason was short,” said Nishikori, whose work with Chang has focused on overcoming his second-serve issues and included a way of changing his grip as well as additional training in California.

On Saturday, two days before his 25th birthday, Nishikori spent 1½ hours practicing with school boy Naoki Nakagawa, who will turn pro after the start of the new year. Nishikori’s first action in 2015 will be in Australia at the Brisbane International, starting from Jan. 4, as a warm-up for the Australian Open, starting in Melbourne on Jan. 19.

“First of all, I want to get some positive results in Australia, where I find it easy to play,” Nishikori said.

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