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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday March 21, 2024

On Thursday at the Miami Open Kei Nishikori played his first competitive match in eight months – and his first at a Masters 1000 since 2021. Even though the former World No.4 was defeated by Austria's Sebastian Ofner (6-3, 6-4) in straight sets, the 34-year-old showed some of his vintage form, and says he is happy to be back on the comeback trail.

Tennis Express

Motivation will not be a problem in this stage of his comeback from multiple injuries, says former US Open and Miami Open finalist Nishikori.

Nishikori, currently ranked 351, sways he doesn’t know when, but he believes that he can get back into good enough form to compete with the sports’ elite.

“Maybe not today, but during practice I was playing pretty good tennis, and I was happy how I was playing this week,” he said. “Practicing with Ruud, couple top players this week.

“I was playing pretty good, I have to say. I'm looking forward to get my tennis back. Maybe it's not going to be soon, but I will keep fighting.”

Ready for the Clay

In the upcoming months, Nishikori plans to hit the red clay, and he says he won’t drop down to the challenger tour unless he struggles to win at tour-level.

Nishikori is 103-47 on clay, and his 68.7 winning percentage on the surface is higher than his record on hard court (67.4) and grass (61.8).

“Usually I play challengers when I try to come back, but I'm hoping to play Houston and Barcelona, Madrid, clay court season, because I like clay. I have a good record playing clay,” he said. “So I hope I can play good couple matches there, Houston, Barcelona. I know it's going to be tough field, but if I keep losing first round, maybe I will put some challengers in, but for now, no.”