Kei Nishikori says he needs to increase his toughness if he is going to fight his way back into the top five.
Nishikori reached a career-high ranking of number four in the world at his peak, although a variety of injuries have plagued him since.
He looked very impressive for the most part in Dubai on Tuesday, though, as he beat in-form David Goffin 6-3, 7-6, and he is keen to keep the momentum going.
“If I want to come back to my level before, I have to be tough,” Kei Nishikori said.
“You have to think more, and you have many more expectations. But the way I think now, is [that] this is my second [career] journey.
“I had elbow surgery two years ago, a shoulder injury last year and couldn’t play three or four months. I’ve had many injuries.
“I have to be happy, and I’ve been playing well [over] the past two weeks.
“My goal is to return to the Top 10, [the] Top 5 hopefully. I think it will be a long way back, because everyone is playing well.
“I have to step up more against Top 50 opponents, but I’ve been enjoying the challenge.”
Nishikori looked better than he had in years for much of the match against Goffin, even though he had a major wobble in the second set.
“I was a little bit tight, especially the match points [at 6-5 in the second set],” said Nishikori.
“He started to play much better from the middle of the second set. I was under pressure in my service games.
“There were many Deuces and at the end of the second set he was much more aggressive and he made me more defensive.
“I made a couple of easy mistakes, which made the games tougher.”
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