At the 2014 US Open, Kei Nishikori made history by becoming the first Asian born man to make it to a major final. Unfortunately for him, he lost to Croatian, Marin Cilic and was left shaking his head. Following that breakthrough in New York, Nishikori has remained consistent but when push came to shove, he was unable to make one final push. Possessing one of the best backhands in the world, Nishikori is one of the few players that every member of the big 4 fears. However, Nishikori is no longer considered a young pretender and after years of near misses and frustration, the man from Japan is in desperate need of a career shake up.

Injuries are never too far away

One of Nishikori’s biggest opponents is his own body. For someone ranked near the top of the game, the amount of times that Nishikori has had to call the trainer or retired from matches is baffling. In both Brisbane and the Australian Open, Nishikori needed to call the trainer because of an abdominal issue. This particular injury is very concerning because it is one that he has been struggling with for years. If you have an abdominal issue in Tennis, you are pretty much unable to play. The amount of torque and bend that one has to do in order to hit the ball is generated in that area. Especially in best three out of five set matches, Nishikori’s fitness has always been a problem.

I’m not sure if Nishikori is not putting in the hard work of the court or if his fitness trainer needs to get fired but if you are constantly getting the same injury and seemingly doing nothing to fix it, then something is not right.

For Nishikori, it’s all mental

Like many current tennis players, Nishikori struggles against the big 4.

Whether it is due to a lack of self-belief or absence of a killer instinct, for the Japanese man, it is all mental. When you match up Nishikori’s game style against the top guys, there is no reason why he should not be more successful against them. He has a superb return of serve, moves around the court like a gazelle, has a powerful forehand and manageable serve.

If I took out Nishikori’s name, that description could easily be used for Andy Murray. The big difference between the two men is their mental approach. Murray walks on court expecting to win and does not care how long he has to be out there to do it. He gets in his opponents face and almost dares them to challenge him. All of the top players (in some way) do the same thing. Even Federer shouts to pump himself. It might not be in Nishikori’s nature to do so but shouting a little more may actually help him release nervous tension. Until he can adjust his mindset, quarter and semi-final results may be as good as it gets.

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