Injury-hit Japan ace Kei Nishikori said Thursday he will sit out this weekend’s behind-closed doors Davis Cup qualifier against Ecuador as he continues to recover from an elbow injury.
A depleted Japan will also be without world No. 48 Yoshihito Nishioka in its bid to reach the finals in Spain later this year.
Nishioka has opted to return to the United States as a precaution against being quarantined because of the novel coronavirus outbreak ahead of next week’s ATP Tour Masters event in Indian Wells.
U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested that the U.S. might consider imposing restrictions on people traveling from Japan because of the virus threat.
No fans will be present when the Davis Cup tie begins Friday to reduce the risk of infection as a growing number of sporting events across the globe are affected by the outbreak.
World No. 31 Nishikori said he was still not fit enough because of the nagging injury, which required surgery in October, and he gave no definite timeline for his return to action.
A former Grand Slam finalist, Nishikori has not played competitive tennis since losing in the third round of the U.S. Open last August.
He was seen practicing his serves this week but told a press conference Thursday: “Physically I’m not at my max.
“I want to return to competition after I improve my strength and become fully confident.
“It might be after Miami or during the clay season,” he added, referring to the Miami Open, which begins on March 25.
The draw for Friday’s singles sees 117th-ranked Go Soeda face Emilio Gomez (No. 151), while Yasutaka Uchiyama (No. 90) will face Roberto Quiroz (No. 276).
On Saturday, the doubles pits Ben McLachlan and Uchiyama against Gonzalo Escobar and Diego Hidalgo before the reverse singles to decide which team will progress to November’s 16-team finals in Madrid.