Kei Nishikori admitted that he did take his foot off the pedal in his first round match against Simone Bolelli at Roland Garros on Monday.
Nishikori’s clash with Bolelli spanned over two days due to heavy rain in Paris, but the Japanese sensation eventually triumphed 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 and will face Andrey Kuznetsov in the next round.
The world number six seemed on track for a quick victory after finding himself 3-0 up in the second set after racing through the first, but Bolelli pushed Nishikori to his limits during the second set.
“It wasn’t easy today. Actually, I started really well. I was up 6-1, 3-0,” he told reporters. “Pretty aggressive and moving the ball pretty good. He started playing a little better in the second, but still, I thought it was a great match for me.
Nishikori revealed that although he is still not yet completely comfortable on clay, he is growing increasingly confident due to the advice he has been getting from coach Michael Chang. The 44-year-old Chang certainly knows what it takes to win at Roland Garros as he was the youngest player to taste victory at the grand slam at the age of 17 in 1989.
“I really feel confidence [on clay], especially these [last] three years,” Nishikori said. “I have been winning Barcelona two times. I couldn’t defend this title this year, but I have been beating top-10 guys on clay.
“Still, it’s not my best surface yet maybe. I like hard court better. But on clay, I think the biggest challenge is beating Rafa and Novak and Andy [Murray], too. I think that’s my next challenge.
“He (Chang) gave me many things. Obviously I started with him three, four years ago. My ranking went up really [quick] in the top 10. Especially on clay I improved my tennis a lot. I started winning tournaments. I’m playing much better tennis on clay. That’s something, for sure, that he gave me good tips.”
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