Nishikori ups the aggro to avoid slipping on grass

Kei Nishikori (AFP)
Kei Nishikori (AFP)

London - Kei Nishikori is turning up the aggression in a bid to win the Wimbledon title and get over the grasscourt blues that have dogged his career.

The Japanese star is the world number nine but all his 22 tournament final appearances have come away from the grass on either hard or clay courts -- something he is desperate to put right at the All England Club this year.

Nishikori reached the 2014 US Open final and has made the quarter-finals three times at the Australian Open and twice at the French Open in the other Grand Slams.

But he has never gone further than two last-16 appearances at Wimbledon and so the 27-year-old is switching up his game in a bid to break the hoodoo.

"I'm trying to win the whole thing. That's my goal," he said after downing Italy's Marco Cecchinato 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in the first round on Monday.

"This is only the Grand Slam that I haven't done well in. I never made the quarter-finals. That's always my motivation, to go into the second week. This last couple of years, I've been playing good on grass. Fit again. So I hope I can make it.

"I'm getting better every year, playing little more aggressive than usual. That's something I'm trying to do: a little more flat balls, and coming in a little more, serve and volley. Little minor changes. It's going in a good way."

Nishikori had to pull out of the Halle warm-up tournament with an on-court back injury but he said it did not trouble him at all during his first round stroll.

"After I got injured, I had a couple of days off. Now I'm feeling very good, feeling 100 percent again. I'm looking really forward to this fight this two weeks," he said.

Injuries on the grass courts have plagued Nishikori throughout his professional career.

"Every year it's challenging for me to play a lot of matches. There are a couple of reasons, playing a lot of matches on clay, and coming here, it's not easy to get prepared for this grass court season. But I think it's getting better," he said.

"I don't know why this injury is coming every year. But I'm trying to get as healthy as I can. Every year it's improving."

The Japanese number one was delighted with how his Wimbledon opener went.

"It was very good. I think he wasn't ready. So he had a little bit of a tough time. But for me, I played very good tennis from the beginning. I never had this kind of quick match. So I'm very, very happy to win."

The ninth seed will play either France's Julien Benneteau or Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky in the last 64 on Wednesday.

Wimbledon results on Monday, the first day of the 2017 championships at the All England Club (x denotes seeding):


1st rd

Andy Murray (GBR x1) bt Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2

Dustin Brown (GER) bt Joo Sousa (POR) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4

Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Nick Kyrgios (AUS x20) 6-3, 6-4 -- retired

Benot Paire (FRA) bt Rogrio Dutra Silva (BRA) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (12/10), 6-4

Jerzy Janowicz (POL) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x12) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2

Simone Bolelli (ITA) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt Carlos Berlocq (ARG) 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1

Sam Querrey (USA x24) bt Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, 6-2

Kevin Anderson (RSA) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP x31) 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8), 6-3

Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1

Donald Young (USA) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-2 -- retired

Thiago Monteiro (BRA) bt Andrew Whittington (AUS) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5)

Karen Khachanov (RUS x30) bt Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2

Kei Nishikori (JPN x9) bt Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-2, 6-2, 6-0

Roberto Bautista (ESP x18) bt Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 6-3, 6-1, 6-2

Florian Mayer (GER) bt Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-1 -- retired


1st rd

Barbora Strcov (CZE x22) bt Vernica Cepede (PAR) 6-3, 6-3

Wang Qiang (CHN) bt Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) 6-3, 6-4

Venus Williams (USA x10) bt Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-6 (9/7), 6-4

Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4

Madison Keys (USA x17) bt Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-4, 6-2

Carina Witthoeft (GER) bt Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO x26) 6-3, 5-7, 8-6

Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) bt Irina Khromacheva (RUS) 6-3, 6-4

Francesca Schiavone (ITA) bt Mandy Minella (LUX) 6-1, 6-1

Elina Svitolina (UKR x4) bt Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 7-5, 7-6 (10/8)

Maria Sakkari (GRE) bt Katerina Siniakov (CZE) 6-3, 6-4

Kristna Plskov (CZE) bt Roberta Vinci (ITA x31) 7-6 (8/6), 6-2

Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) bt Laura Robson (GBR) 6-4, 6-2

Simona Halep (ROM x2) bt Marina Erakovic (NZL) 6-4, 6-1

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