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Despite Setback, Nishikori Excited For Roland Garros

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At the Mutua Madrid Open final on Sunday, Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori looked to be on track for his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, outplaying Rafael Nadal on the surface the Spaniard calls home.

But a back injury sustained in the quarter-finals flared up for the 24 year old in the seventh game of the second set.

“I was already hurting and I couldn't move and I couldn't jump," rued Nishikori. "It was very sad, especially since I was winning, playing almost the best tennis of my life – against Rafa, leading 6-2, 4-2. It was very tough mentally for me."

“You never know what could have happened today. If I were not hurt, I may have had a chance to win."

Despite the disappointing loss, the five-time ATP World Tour titlist spoke positively as he assessed his week and season so far. The right-hander has already claimed two titles this year, in Barcelona and Memphis, and was riding a 14-match winning streak as he entered his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. On Monday, the Emirates ATP Rankings will show him at a career-high No. 9 - the first player from Japan to enter the Top 10.

“There are a lot of good things,” said Nishikori.

“It's going to be very exciting at [Roland Garros] because I never feel like this on clay. I’m very confident of whatever I hit... going for winners. I can hit from either side, forehand or backhand, so it's very good feeling that I have on clay right now.”

Also on his side is the coaching experience of Michael Chang, who has been part of Nishikori's team since December 2013. Chang, a former World No. 2, lifted the Roland Garros title in 1989.

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