Kei Nishikori has had to deal with numerous physical problems in recent years, which have prevented him from playing his chances to the full. After the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati in 2019, the Japanese decided to have an operation on his wrist to try to resolve an injury, before the pandemic also disrupted the tennis calendar.
In a recent interview on the official ATP website, the Japanese confirmed his admiration for 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer. The former world number 1 has just made his return to the circuit after more than a year of absence, but has failed to make it past the quarter-finals in Doha.
The 39-year-old from Basel, who underwent two knee surgeries in 2020, has targeted Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics in what could be the final season of his outstanding career. Roger and Kei have faced each other 11 times on the ATP tour, with the Swiss leading 8-3 on the head-to-head balance sheet (their latest match took place at Wimbledon two years ago).
"I would like to face Roger Federer again, he has always been my idol," Nishikori replied when asked to choose his dream opponent in a Masters 1000. "It would be fantastic to be able to meet him a couple of more times, it's great to play against him," he added.
Kei believes that the Maestro will remain on the tour for some time yet: "Playing with Roger gives you a lot of experience. My opinion is that he will still be playing for a couple of years. My hope is to challenge him a couple more times before he hangs up his racquet.
To face each other in a final would really be ideal," he concluded. The eight-time Wimbledon champion will not be at the Miami Open this week, adding a further absence to the already battered draw of the first 1000 of the season.
The hegemony of the legendary world tennis trio is impressive and is exemplified in a resounding fact: at least one of them, the Serb, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, has been present in 64 of the last 70 Slam finals. We have to recall that this hegemony lasting since the Swiss reached Wimbledon final in 2003.
Almost 18 years of practically indisputable dominance have passed, and in this time only eight players have managed to snatch one of the twelve titles that the big three have missed. With Djokovic's victory against the Russian, they reach 58 Slams between them (20 Nadal and Federer and 18 Djokovic).
Roddick, Gaudio, Safín, Del Potro, Murray (3), Wawrinka (3), Cilic and Thiem (1), the latter last year at the US Open.