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"A final against Roger Federer would be great" - Kei Nishikori on his dream Masters 1000 match

Roger Federer shakes hands with Kei Nishikori at Wimbledon 2019
Roger Federer shakes hands with Kei Nishikori at Wimbledon 2019
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Modified 22 Mar 2021
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Kei Nishikori recently revealed that facing Roger Federer in a final would be his ideal scenario for an ATP Masters 1000 match.

Nishikori has always been a big fan of the 20-time Slam champion, and the pair have met 11 times on the ATP tour. Roger Federer leads their head-to-head 8-3, with their last match coming at Wimbledon 2019 - which the Swiss won in four sets.

In an interview with ATP ahead of this week's Miami Masters, Kei Nishikori talked about he would like to play a few more matches against Roger Federer, his 'idol'.

"I would play Roger Federer, because he is my idol," Nishikori responded when asked about his dream match at a Masters 1000 event. "If we can play a couple more times, it would be great because it is just fun to play against him."

Since their last meeting, both Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori have taken extended breaks.

Nishikori departed the scene for a while after the Cincinnati Masters 2019, due to a wrist injury for which he underwent surgery in October 2019. The Japanese returned to the tour only in September 2020, but was limited to just three events in the post-pandemic season.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer did not compete in 2020 after the Australian Open due to a knee injury. Federer underwent two surgeries and only returned to the tour earlier this month at the Qatar Open. And after reaching the quarterfinals in Doha, Roger Federer pulled out of the ATP 500 event in Dubai so that he could focus on his physical conditioning.

Kei Nishikori on his part believes Roger Federer will be on the tour for a while longer. The Japanese also claimed that playing against Federer is always an enriching experience.

"You get many experiences from [playing] Roger Federer," Nishikori said. "I am sure he is going to play a couple more years. Before he retires, I want to play him a couple more times. A final would be great."
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But Nishikori would need to wait for a few more weeks for his wish to even be in the realm of possibility. Federer has decided to skip the Miami Masters, and has not provided a firm date for his next event.

"The 2014 Madrid final against Rafael Nadal" - Kei Nishikori on his toughest Masters 1000 match

Rafael Nadal consoles Kei Nishikori at the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open Masters
Rafael Nadal consoles Kei Nishikori at the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open Masters

During the interview, Kei Nishikori also picked the 2014 Madrid Masters final against Rafael Nadal as the toughest Masters 1000 series match he has played in his career.

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The 2014 Madrid Masters was the first time that Nishikori reached a Masters 1000 final. In that match, Nishikori won the first set 6-2 and led 4-2 in the second before an injury derailed his chances.

Visibly slowed down by his leg injury in the latter half of the match, Nishikori lost the second set 4-6 and trailed 0-3 in the final set when he was forced to retire.

"I would say the 2014 Madrid final against Rafael Nadal," Kei Nishikori said. "It was good and bad. I played [some of] my best tennis. It was a great match and a great start. I was closing my eyes, hitting everything and it was going in."
"After the second set, I started feeling my leg," he added. "I couldn’t move. Unfortunately, I had to retire. It was a good memory, but also sad because I had a little chance to win against Rafa."
Published 22 Mar 2021, 15:02 IST
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