Kei Nishikori says he hopes to be able to play against ‘monster’ Roger Federer again, after both players have returned to tennis following injury.
Federer made a comeback in Doha last week after 13 months away from the game, following two surgeries on a recurring knee injury.
In his first match back, he beat world number 28 Dan Evans in an impressive display before narrowly losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals, who eventually went on to win the ATP 250 tournament.
Federer has now said he will skip Dubai in order to concentrate on this fitness for the next six weeks and will look to return in the clay season.
Meanwhile, Nishikori, who has been suffering with an elbow injury, is gaining confidence once again in his game beating both Felix Auger Aliassime and Alex De Minaur to reach the quarter-finals in Rotterdam.
On Sunday, the former world number four beat American Reilly Opelka in the first round of the Dubai Championships and was asked his opinion on rekindling the rivalry with Federer once again.
“He (Federer) is a monster, in a good way,” Nishikori told reporters.
“He played two solid matches, that was unexpected. He played a pretty good game. Of course, having been one year off he was a little bit off, you know. But he still played great. Not everybody could do that.”
“Hopefully he can come back strong and hope we can play couple matches, you know, on the courts.
“I always enjoyed playing against him and I’m sure he can come back winning Slams again.”
When asked how he felt after his successful start in Dubai, Nishikori seemed happy with his performance.
“I played a very solid match today,” Nishikori reflected.
“I tried to focus on my first service game because I knew there wouldn’t be many chances on my return game. I tried to make my first serve and I think I did quite enough.
“I surprised myself how I returned well on break points.”
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