Kei Nishikori Draws Positives From First Win Since Comeback
Kei Nishikori has won his first tour match since August after defeating Dennis Novikov 6-3, 6-3, in the first round of the Challenger Tennis Championships of Dallas.
The Japanese No.1 is only playing in his second tournament since returning to action from a wrist injury. Against Novikov, who he lost to a week prior in Newport, Nishikori was able to exert his dominance against the world No.214. Winning 78% of his first service points and breaking four times during the match.
“I wasn’t as nervous as I was last week, I was more hyped up and I was able to get myself into my game more,” Nishikori told reporters after the match. “The more repetitions I get, the better tennis I will be able to play.”
Providing an update on his wrist, the 28-year-old said that it felt ‘good’ during his latest match. In recent months, he has been sidelined by a torn tendon in his right wrist. Which he picked up during a practice session at the Western and Southern Open last August. The problem forced him to miss the Australian Open for the first time since 2010.
“I still need to work on a lot of areas but my wrist felt good so that’s a relief,” he explained.
“My serve returns were great. After returning the first serve I was able to start a rally which is my strength.”
The world No.27 is the only top 50 player participating in the Dallas tournament this week. Other participants include Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Bublik. Should Nishikori win the tournament he would be only the second non-American do to do since 2006. The first was Kyle Edmund in 2016.
Nishikori, who hasn’t won a Challenger title since 2010, will take on either Evgeny Karlovskiy or Matthias Bachinger in the second round of the $125,000 event.