Nishikori's eye on the prize

Kei Nishikori (Getty)
Kei Nishikori (Getty)

London - Kei Nishikori has his eye on the main prize at Wimbledon this year and, if his body holds up, the Japanese ninth seed should get past Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday and into the second week of the grass-court grand slam. 

A spot in the fourth round would match his previous best showing at the All England Club but Nishikori believes this year he can "win the whole thing" to become Asia's first male grand slam singles champion. 

The 27-year-old has defeated his third-round opponent in all four of their previous meetings, winning 6-2 6-4 in their most recent clash on the hard courts of the Miami Masters last year. 

Spaniard Bautista Agut may be more at home on clay but, like his heroes David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero, never gives up without a fight and Nishikori will have to earn a victory on Court Three. 

Nishikori has been in fine form in the tournament so far, though, breezing through his opening clash with Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-2 6-0 in a baseline master class before dispatching dangerous Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4 6-7(7) 6-1 7-6(6). 

One of Nishikori biggest battles at the championships may be with his own body, however. 

Injuries - variously affecting his calf, hip and ribs - have forced him to pull out of the last five grass-court tournaments he has contested going back to 2015, including his Wimbledon fourth round tie last year and at Halle in Germany last month. 

The former world No 4, however, said he was happy with his level of fitness coming into the year's third major. 

"I'm feeling very good, feeling 100 percent again," he said earlier this week. "I hope I can stay healthy." 

So will the legion of Japanese fans who have given him a hero's welcome at matches this week.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
Pakistan 216/6
South Africa 220/10
loading... Live
Warriors 123/3
Cape Cobras 0
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Rugby
41% - 11495 votes
Cricket
12% - 3329 votes
Football
19% - 5195 votes
Athletics
3% - 703 votes
Boxing
1% - 271 votes
Cycling
2% - 645 votes
Golf
5% - 1420 votes
Motorsport
8% - 2348 votes
Tennis
3% - 934 votes
Water sports
1% - 248 votes
American sports
1% - 340 votes
MMA / WWE / UFC
3% - 909 votes
Vote