‘I always love the challenge,’ Kei Nishikori relishing chance to face Novak Djokovic
Japanese star Kei Nishikori said he ‘loves the challenge’ ahead of his crunch clash against Novak Djokovic in the third round of the US Open.
Nishikori has already spent over six hours on court in his opening two matches, including a marathon five-setter against Mackenzie McDonald last time out.
Despite perhaps feeling a little fatigued, the Japanese star can take confidence from seven years ago at Flushing Meadows, when he defeated Djokovic in the semi-final.
“I think it was one of my best matches. Because of that, I think it’s a little better feeling that I have playing here,” Nishikori said.
“Even though he’s the best player, I have good memories here playing the US Open and beating him before here. I can be [a] little positive being [at the] US Open.
Despite his US Open heroics, the 31-year-old hasn’t beaten the Serbian since his victory back in 2014, with Djokovic winning the last 16 contests.
“Obviously I love the challenge. Now he’s one of the best on the tennis tour. It’s not someone I love to play all the time because obviously he’s the toughest opponent, one or two,” Nishikori said.
“I’d rather have someone ranked lower. I always love the challenge. Even though I have a bad record, I always try to be positive. I’m sure it’s going to be a tough one, but I’ll do my best.”
When asked if there are any weaknesses in Djokovic’s game, Nishikori said he has ‘everything’ and praised his consistency and lack of unforced errors.
“I think his best thing is controlling the ball. He can hit anywhere from both sides,” Nishikori said. “He’s been serving well. Best return on the Tour. Maybe compared to other guys, [he makes] less unforced errors. He has everything. I think that’s a couple of good things.”
2014 semifinal: Nishikori
2018 semifinal: Djokovic
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 3, 2021
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