ATP World Tour Finals: Kei Nishikori Won't be Fazed by Andy Murray Challenge
Kei Nishikori has yet to take a set off former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in three previous meetings, but the most recent of those came almost two years ago and the Japanese star is greatly improved since then. Nishikori will take on home favourite Murray at London's O2 Arena on Sunday in the Japanese's ATP World Tour Finals debut.
Kei Nishikori is adamant he won't be intimidated when he makes his ATP Tour Finals debut against home favourite Andy Murray at London's O2 Arena on Sunday.
Nishikori has yet to take a set off former Wimbledon champion Murray in three previous meetings, but the most recent of those came almost two years ago and the Japanese star is greatly improved since then.
The 24-year-old has enjoyed the best year of his career, reaching his first Grand Slam final at the US Open in September and qualifying for the prestigious eight-man Tour Finals for the first time.
Although he lost that final in New York to Marin Cilic, Nishikori has continued to shine in the closing weeks of the season, winning tournaments in Kuala Lumper and Tokyo to climb to fifth in the world rankings.
Nishikori has been drawn in a tough group at the Finals and opens against Murray before facing Roger Federer and Milos Raonic.
But he insists he isn't fazed by the prospect of taking on Murray in front of a capacity crowd who will be backing their local hero.
"He beat me already three times and he's one of the toughest players on the tour. And especially he's from here and he's got the home crowd so it's not going to be easy for me," Nishikori said.
"But this is a little bit of a different situation because I've been playing one of the best years of my career and beating top-10, top-five guys already.
"I don't think it's like I can't beat him so, if I can play good tennis, I think I will have some chance to win."
World number six Murray has been in fine form of late, winning three titles to secure his place in the end of year event after he briefly dropped out of the top 10.
But the Scot has huge respect for Nishikori's development and expects a tough start to his bid to reach the final of the Tour Finals for the first time.
"He's made big improvements this year in his game and his ranking, he's won a number of tournaments, he's had a lot of matches but also quite a few injuries," Murray said.
"He's played some very good tennis this year. He's a young guy and he's going to keep getting better over the next couple of years."