Comeback In Style: Nishikori Returns After 20 Months & Wins First Tournament Back

Comeback In Style: Nishikori Returns After 20 Months & Wins First Tournament Back

by Zachary Wimer

Kei Nishikori returned to tennis and it was a really triumphant return for the former World No. 4.

After previously announcing his comeback in 2022, and postponing it multiple times, Nishikori finally made his comeback at an ATP Challenger 75 tournament called the 2023 Caribbean Open in Palmas Del Mar in Puerto Rico.

The Japanese player entered the tournament thanks to a wild card, but quite soon it was obvious that he will be one of the favourites at the tournament, despite facing a tough opposition of some talented players.

In the first round, Nishikori easily cruised past Christian Langmo, winning 6-2, 6-4. His biggest challenge, at least result-wise, came in the second round when the former World No. 4 needed to come back from a one-set deficit, beating the seventh-seeded Mitchell Krueger 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Then, Nishikori comfortably navigated matches against Adam Walton and Gustavo Heide, winning both 6-4, 6-2, before setting up the final match against Michael Zheng from the United States, the 2022 Wimbledon Boys' finalist.

Although the 19-year-old American proved his qualities in the past, Nishikori was too good for him as the Japanese player won the match 6-2, 7-5, despite losing a two-break lead in the second set, to win his first tournament after a 20-month break.

On Monday, the 33-year-old will also make a significant move in the ATP Rankings. Since he hasn't played for over a year, he didn't have any ranking points, and with 75 to his name after the triumph, he'll move up to 492nd position from previously being unranked.

Over the course of the next few months, return to the Top 100 will be certainly something that Nishikori will target. That's because that will allow him to directly enter the main draws without need to use his protected ranking or a wild card.

The Japanese player will want to avoid the troubles that his colleague from the WTA Tour, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had when she used her protected ranking for the first two Grand Slam tournament of the season, and because of rules, she couldn't use it for the third major, being forced to withdraw from Wimbledon.


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