2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori says he needs to get his confidence back and winning matches is something that will help him quickly get to where he wants to be. On Monday, former world No. 4 Nishikori handed a straight-set defeat to two-time ATP champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4 7-6 (3) in his Rome Masters opener.
Nishikori, now ranked at No. 35 in the world, underwent an elbow surgery in 2019 October and he made his return last week at the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel. The win over Ramos-Vinolas was Nishikori’s first win since last year’s US Open.
“Very happy to win. I think winning is most important for now. I need to get a lot of confidence. It’s been a long time since the US Open last year,” Nishikori said on court after his victory, per the ATP website.
“Happy to go through. It wasn’t maybe perfect yet, but hopefully one by one I’ll get better.”
Nishikori wanted to be aggressive
Ramos-Vinolas had the first break point of the match in the ninth game of the first set — he failed to convert — and a game later Nishikori realized his first break point to win the opener.
Nishikori was pressuring Ramos-Vinolas’ serve late in the second set but the Spaniard saved three match points in the 10th game and two more in the 12th game to force a tie-break. In the tie-break, Nishikori realized his sixth match point to reach the Rome Masters second round.
“I tried to be aggressive when I could. He hits a lot of topspin balls, so it’s not easy,” Nishikori said. “But I tried to have good defence and good offence.” Last week, Nishikori was a set away from making a winning return to tennis in Kitzbuhel.
Nishikori won the first set against Miomir Kecmanovic before the eventual Kitzbuhel champion stormed back to win the following two sets. “I was not at 100%, but I was happy with the way I played. I was not fit enough, and maybe if I finished in two sets, it would have been different, as I had some chances.
It’s a shame, as I could have won today, but it was a good moment; I’m positive today,” Nishikori said after losing to Kecmanovic. “I hit the ball better in the altitude, so it wasn’t easy, but I like it. I’ll try to prepare better for next week.”