• Kyodo

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Japan star Kei Nishikori vowed Friday to compete at the top level next year following a turbulent season in which he contracted the novel coronavirus and injured his shoulder at the French Open in late September.

Nishikori had an operation on his right elbow in October last year and his long-awaited return to the ATP tour was delayed after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus in August.

Kei Nishikori speaks during an online news conference on Friday. | KYODO
Kei Nishikori speaks during an online news conference on Friday. | KYODO

He then injured his right shoulder in a five-set second-round defeat to Italian Stefano Travaglia at Roland Garros, ruling him out for the rest of the season.

“We had few tournaments (due to the pandemic) and my season came to an end when I was beginning to get my feel back,” Nishikori said during an online press conference. “I really can’t wait for next year.”

The right shoulder injury means he is yet to get back to serving practice but the former world No. 4, currently ranked 41st, is ready for a big 2021 season that includes the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

“(My shoulder) has recovered to a decent level. It’ll be definitely okay for next year,” Nishikori said. “I’ll prepare (for the Olympics) assuming that they will take place.”

“I couldn’t face top-10 ranked players this season. I want to compete at that level again as soon as I can.”

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