Kei Nishikori - Roland Garros 2019

Kei Nishikori claims his first victory on the ATP tour in 21 months

Kei Nishikori has returned to the ATP tour with a bang, with the former No.4 winning his first ATP tour match since October 2021, despite considering retirement in his time away from the sport.

Nishikori spent 2022 on the sidelines after undergoing hip surgery and was set to return at the start of this year.

However, after suffering an ankle injury his comeback was delayed and the 33-year-old revealed that he ‘almost’ retired.

“After eight or nine months of rehab after the hip surgery I was almost ready to come back when I sprained my ankle. It turned out to be complicated and much worse than what I first saw. That set me back another four or five months,” explained Nishikori.

He continued, “Once or twice I almost thought [about retiring]. It was mentally shocking to be so close and then to have a second injury. I wasn’t sure if I could come back from that. So that was the toughest time.”

The Japanese star finally returned in June of this year at the ATP Challenger event in Palmas Del Mar, Puerto Rico, and went all the way to winning the title.

He followed up by playing two other tournaments at that level, but could not replicate his success in Puerto Rico.

In his first match on the main ATP tour Nishikori beat Jordan Thompson, 7-6(5) 7-6(5), at the ATP 250 event in Atlanta.

Nishikori revealed how much the victory meant to him, “It was very emotional after everything that it took to get back. I’m just so happy to be back here playing. I have zero pressure and can play free. I’m just having fun on the court. And I’m excited to be playing against the top guys again.

“I have had a good team around me and I’m very thankful that Max [Mirnyi] and Michael [Chang] kept encouraging me. They still believe in me and I believe it too.”

Now Nishikori has officially returned, he is look forward to potential meetings with the likes of Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner.

“One thing I hope to get the chance to do is to play against these great young players like Alcaraz, Rune and Sinner at some point,” said Nishikori. “That’s part of my motivation to try to play for a few more years.

“I don’t think we have seen anyone like Alcaraz before. He looks like Rafa [Nadal] but he has more speed. Good defence, unbelievable forehand and he has a good backhand too.”

Nishikori will continue his comeback tomorrow when he plays his second round match against 18-year-old Juncheng Shang, as he builds up to the US Open.

Kei Nishikori Career Achievements

As Nishikori looks to continue his comeback, we at Tennishead wanted to reflect back on some of his accomplishments in his established career:

Career-high ranking: No.4

ATP Titles: 12 (2008 – Delray Beach, 2012 – Tokyo, 2013 – Memphis, 2014 – Memphis, Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, 2015 – Memphis, Barcelona, Washington, 2016 – Memphis, 2019 – Brisbane)

Grand Slam Best Result: Final (US Open 2014)

Olympic Medals: 1 (Bronze – Rio de Janeiro 2016)

ATP Finals Best Result: Semi-final (2014 & 2016)

 Join >> Receive $700/£600 of tennis gear from the Tennishead CLUB

 Social >> FacebookTwitter & YouTube

 Read >> World’s best tennis magazine

 Shop >> Lowest price tennis gear from our trusted partner 

Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.