He is a social networking phenomenon, a force of nature on court and a master of the clay. Kei Nishikori comes into this Mutua Madrid Open having earned the respect he deserves and, as a 2014 finalist, he is one of the players the Caja Mágica crowd admires the most. Excited about the prospect of a good week and building his confidence for the season, the Japanese player is warming up his engines before getting stuck into the competition.
“I love being in Spain!” admits Kei, “I think winning in Barcelona twice gave me a lot of confidence to play on clay. Here, with a little bit of altitude it’s a little bit easier for hitting ground strokes. The last couple of years I’ve been doing well on clay”, says 2014’s runner-up.
“Hopefully I’ll do well. I am motivated to do well this week, but I’m coming back from an injury and we’ll see how I can do for a couple of rounds”, he adds. “Winning the title would be great, but I know that I have a recent injury. I hope to get some confidence this week, have great matches during the next two weeks and be completely ready for the French Open”.
Is Nishikori a keen tourist? “I haven’t done much since I always have to go away fast. I haven’t had much time to see the city. I found some good Japanese restaurants in Madrid” responds Kei. “I feel welcome in the city. I also love Spanish food so I can’t complain”.
One of the biggest names on tour, Nishikori always attracts a throng of fans in training. “Whenever I’m in Spain I always feel the support. When we are on court the people always create a great atmosphere, I love playing here”.
“I have great memories of this tournament playing against David Ferrer. Whenever we play we have some good battles. Rafa is playing very good tennis this season and is the one to beat on clay”.