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‘Federer inspired me’ – Nishikori on overcoming thoughts of retirement

Nishikori revealed the extent of his troubles during an injury-hit 2022 season

Kei Nishikori November 19, 2022, Tokyo, Japan – Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori attends a talk show with Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer at a promotional event of Japanese apparel maker Uniqlo at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo on Saturday, November 19, 2022. Federer closed his 24-year professional tennis career in September (AF/Panoramic)

Kei Nishikori has opened up on the struggles he has experienced this year – and admitted it’s taken its toll.

The 32-year-old described the mental strain that the past season has taken on him, saying: “I was really depressed in the last few months, I even thought about retiring. Mentally, it’s very complicated, I’ve been on the verge of retirement.”

Nishikori: My goal is to appear at the Australian Open

The 2014 US Open runner-up has not played a competitive match this calendar year and had hip surgery in January. The Japanese player has now set his sights on the 2023 Australian Open for his return, but says his chances are still very much in the balance ahead of the tournament’s commencement on January 16.

“I don’t know when I’ll be back on the tour,” he admitted. “My goal would be to be able to play the 2023 Australian Open. Right now, the chances of playing the first Grand Slam of the season are 50 per cent.”

Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer (L) and Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori attend a kids’ tennis clinic at a promotional event of Japanese apparel maker Uniqlo at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo on Saturday, November 19, 2022 (AF/Panoramic)

Nishikori emphasised the impact Roger Federer – now retired, at the age of 41 – has had on his motivation to get back on the court, revealing: “When I saw Roger, I finally thought that I can continue playing tennis over 30 years of age.”

Nishikori was speaking at the Uniqlo LifeWear Day Tokyo 2022 with Roger Federer, which took place on November 19 and featured many brand ambassadors including wheelchair tennis champions Shingo Kunieda and Gordon Reid. The day saw crowds enjoy junior coaching sessions, a panel discussion and an exhibition of the progress made between Roger Federer and Uniqlo as partners.

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