Confident Nishikori has good feeling about another Open run

Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:09am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kei Nishikori is brimming with confidence heading into the U.S. Open starting on Monday, despite acknowledging the presence of a flock of title contenders at Flushing Meadows.

Nishikori, who surged into prominence with his run to the U.S. Open final two years ago, said he is a better player now and buoyed by his strong showing at the Rio Olympics where he defeated 14-times slam winner Rafa Nadal to claim the bronze.

"I think I'm little more patient and playing much better than last year, two years ago. You know, I'm really excited for next week," the 26-year-old Japanese told reporters at Flushing Meadows.

"I feel a lot of special feeling here in the U.S. Open, a good memory from two years ago."

One year after he became the first Asian to reach a men's grand slam final, Nishikori in 2015 suffered a stunning first-round, five-set loss to 41st-ranked Benoit Paire of France.

Nishikori took the U.S. National Tennis Center by storm in 2014, beating Canada's Milos Raonic and third seed Stan Wawrinka in successive five-set struggles before ousting Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

He fell short of lifting the winner's trophy, however, as he fell to big-serving Croat Marin Cilic in the final.

Nishikori has enjoyed a fine hardcourt season, highlighted by a trip to the Toronto final and his appearance on the podium at the Rio Games to collect a bronze medal after a three-set win against 14-times slam winner Nadal.   Continued...

Aug 17, 2016; Mason, OH, USA; Kei Nishikori (JPN) serves against Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) on day five during the Western and Southern tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports