Belief powers Nishikori’s US Open bid

Japanese fourth seed Kei Nishikori, last year’s US Open runner-up, makes another bid to become the first Asian man to win a grand slam singles title starting on Monday.

The 25-year-old winner of 10 ATP titles will begin his run on the opening morning at Louis Armstrong Stadium against Benoit Paire, having beaten the Frenchman in both prior meetings, most recently in the third round at the 2013 French Open.

“I believe in myself,” Nishikori said. “This past four, five years I try to believe myself to be top 10 and now I’m top 10.

“So little by little I try to claim this big challenge. I’m very proud I’m No.1 in Asia right now and I hope I can keep going.”

Nishikori faces a potential quarter-final rematch of last year’s US Open final with Croatian ninth seed Marin Cilic, who won his first grand slam title with the victory, and could meet Serbian world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Nishikori said. “From last year at this time I stepped one up and I raised my level, so I’m very happy with everything this year.”

Nishikori has won titles this year in Memphis, Barcelona and Washington. Last year after his US Open final run, Nishikori won titles in Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo.

“It was really disappointing to lose in a final but at the same time it was a great experience and I learned a lot of things from last year’s US Open,” he said.

“I won two tournaments in a row right after. I very much appreciate this time last year and I played really well after that.”

Nishikori avenged his US Open final loss to Cilic in a rematch on his way to the Washington title earlier this month but he knows the US Open this year is a whole new challenge and last year is but a nice memory.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for me to play this year again, but I’m very confident,” he said.

“This is a new US Open. I know how to go tough in final again, so I’ll try to play one match at a time and focus on myself and what I have to do on the court.”

Nishikori is hoping for luck to repeat itself so he’s changing as little as possible from his 2014 US Open routine.

“I’m staying in the same hotel with the same team again. I think it’s very important to do the same things like last year,” Nishikori said. “I was doing really well last year so I try to prepare like last year and just play good tennis.

“There are some new things. But on the court it’s all the same. I have to play good tennis to beat those strong guys, especially top-10 guys. Pretty tough.”

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