Nishikori confident of rankings breakthrough


Kei Nishikori says consistency will be the key to breaking into the world's top five in 2016 as he targets improvements in all aspects of his game.

The Japenese is eighth in the rankings going into the new season and seeded second behind Roger Federer for the Brisbane International, with a bye into the second round of the ATP 250 event in Queensland.

Nishikori, who won three tournaments last season and reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and the French Open, is confident of improving on that return.

"I think it's going to be a really interesting year for me," the 26-year-old told Omnisport.

"Brisbane and [the] Australian Open is going to be important to have a good start for the year and [the] Australian [Open] is going to be a big tournament, so I hope I can have good preparations ... and I hope I can play good tennis.

"I think I have to improve all the little things. Serves, forehands have to be a little bit more aggressive. I think consistency is really important for me. 

"I need to play good tennis during the whole year and then my ranking is going to get higher and higher. And I also hope I can play good tennis in grand slams as I think it's going to be important to get big points in big tournaments."

Nishikori reached his first grand slam final two years ago, losing to Marin Cilic at the US Open after ousting Stan Wawrinka and then Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

With that impressive run still fresh in the mind, he then suffered a first-round exit at the same tournament last year, leaving him determined to respond to that disappointment.  

"It was really good in [the] US Open 2014, so I was expecting a lot from myself," he said.

"I put pressure on myself ... which caused me to play kind of defensive tennis and I was afraid of mistakes a little bit. If I can play more aggressively, with more courage, I think that better results will come along."

Nishikori must overhaul David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal to force his way into the world's top five, but he feels that is a realistic prospect, particularly after defeating 14-time grand slam winner Nadal for the first time in eight attempts at the Rogers Cup in August.

"I think I'm getting [close to] their position," he said of Djokovic, Andy Murray, Federer, Wawrinka and the Spaniard.

"I'm feeling they are quite close to me and I've won [against] all the top 10 players after the win against Nadal for the first time [last] season.

"So I think that there will be more chances and [the] possibility to get into the top five if I can play good tennis."