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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday March 20, 2024

Kei Nishikori is 34, but he still believes he has the energy to make one last push up the ATP rankings.

The former World No.4 (currently 351) has taken a wild card into this week’s Miami Open, and will begin his season with a matchup against Germany’s Sebastian Ofner on Thursday.

Tennis Express

Nishikori, who has dealt with a knee injury, has only played three ATP matches since the 2022 season.

Nishikori had surgery on his hip in January of 2022. Last year he returned to the court and played three matches in Atlanta, but had a left knee injury after, and has been unable to play since.

“It wasn’t easy,” the 2016 Miami Open runner-up said. “It took a lot of time to get healed. My knee was hurting for a long time. I think now I’m ready to play – enough to play a couple of matches. Having that tough time is going to help mentally, I think I can enjoy every match. That’s something I have to keep in mind to myself, to enjoy every moment.”

Nishikori says he never stopped loving the sport.

“That’s something I never lost. I still have good motivation to play. I want to play again with those top players I never played before. Many young guys are coming into the Top 10 now, and many of them I haven’t played yet, that’s something that motivates me.”

Nishikori is excited about the games of Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, and wants to face them.

“I really enjoy watching them, especially Carlos and Sinner, they really play powerful but still make the balls. Carlos has great touch and enjoys his matches – I enjoy watching him and hope I can play him one day.”

The Japanese star, who owns 433 match wins and 12 ATP titles,added Swede Thomas Johansson to his team recently.

“I want to still play aggressive like I used to do,” he said. “But there are still some little things that I can improve – I think it’s been working well.”