Kei Nishikori says he always ‘loves the challenge’ of playing world number one Novak Djokovic, despite only winning two of their 19 career head to heads.
Djokovic is hoping to win a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam at this year’s US Open and and will meet Nishikori in the third round, after winning 16 consecutive matches against the Japanese star.
However, the last of Nishikori’s victories against the Serbian came in the 2014 US Open semi-final and he is hoping that the venue will help give him confidence in the match.
“I think it was one of my best matches,” said Nishikori.
“Because of that, I think it’s a little better feeling that I have playing here.
“Even though he’s the best player, I have good memories here playing the US Open and beating him before here. I can be [a] little positive being [at the] US Open,” he said.
Nishikori thinks being aggressive on court is the only way to play Djokovic, but knows that it will be an uphill challenge, especially with the Serbian in such good form.
“I have to stay patient. I still have to play great tennis to beat him. He’s not going to give me any free points, so I have to earn the points. I think being aggressive is the key.
“I think his best thing is controlling the ball. He can hit anywhere from both sides. He’s been serving well. Best return on the Tour. Maybe compared to other guys, [he makes] less unforced errors. He has everything,” said Nishikori.
Although Nishikori says he would rather have avoided playing Djokovic in the third round, he’s going to stay positive and do his best.
“Of course it’s not [my] favourite to play Novak. You can see my record,” Nishikori admitted.
“You don’t want to play third round [against the] No. 1 player. I’d rather have someone ranked lower. That’s very obvious.
“Now I have to, so I always try to be positive. I’m sure it’s going to be a tough one, but I’ll do my best, ” said Nishikori.
For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below or via our home page.
Why not test your tennis knowledge by tackling one of our fiendish quizzes too?