Melbourne - Japanese star Kei Nishikori said he's become
more mature and mentally stronger and he's now ready to convert his immense
promise into Grand Slam success.
The 27-year-old, the highest-ranked Asian men's singles
player ever, has won 11 career titles but never a major championship, going
closest at the 2014 US Open where he lost in the final to Marin Cilic.
After making the second week of all four Grand Slams last
year, with a semi-final appearance at Flushing Meadows the highlight, he is
determined to go a step further this year.
"It's been three years now maybe to be in the top
10," he said on Saturday ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park,
where he has reached the quarter-finals three times.
"Well, I got really mentally strong. I think I'm more
consistent and much more mature in everything, you know, even off the court, on
the court too.
"Everything is getting better now."
With a good off-season under his belt, he is fired up to
keep improving and finally go the distance at a Grand Slam, with Russia's
Andrey Kuznetsov his first round test next week.
"I hope I can get a Grand Slam title sometime. But I
haven't got a big title yet, even the Masters tournaments," said the fifth
"That's something what I need for my confidence and
experience. Yeah, my goal this year is to win a big tournament."
Nishikori, who moved to the United States aged 14, has had a solid build-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year, making the Brisbane International final where he lost to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in an enthralling clash.
"I thought I started well this year. So, yeah, it's going to be really important how I do here to get a lot of confidence for the start of the season. I'm feeling pretty good," he said.