BRADENTON, FLORIDA – Kei Nishikori is looking to leave his mark with a Grand Slam title in the coming year as he seeks a quick return to the world top five.
“Producing good results in big tournaments like Grand Slams will be important,” Nishikori told reporters after holding a public practice at the IMG Academy on Monday, a day before turning 26.
Nishikori claimed three ATP tour titles and rose to a career-high No. 4 in the world rankings this season. He ended the year ranked eighth but is eager to get back into the top five, something he claimed 12 months ago made him feel “uncomfortable.”
“I’m totally settled now and want to get into the top five as soon as I can,” said Nishikori. “I think (Milos) Raonic and (Marin) Cilic will come up there again and make it more of a dead heat next year.”
Nishikori has been training with coach and former French open champion Michael Chang after returning to the United States early this month, looking at areas for improvement including his second serves.
“We’ve watched videos together from this year and checked what can be enhanced,” said Nishikori. “I’m mentally fresh but have been training hard so I’m physically tired. I’ll tune myself up before the Australian Open.”
Nishikori will begin his new season at the Brisbane International starting on Jan. 4 before taking part in the Australian Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, in Melbourne from Jan. 18.
The year also includes a summer trip to Brazil to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, an occasion Nishikori is eagerly anticipating.
“It’s a busy schedule so there is a worry but I hope to be at my peak for the Rio Olympics as well,” he said. “I don’t normally have a chance to go to Brazil so I’m looking forward to it.”
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