Cape Town - Word No 9 Kei Nishikori has set his sights on bagging a maiden major title in 2019 after enjoying a decent return from a serious injury.
The Japanese native suffered through a five month layoff due to a wrist injury. Nishikori went back to the Challenger Tour at the start of 2018 to work his way back into shape.
It paid off, as he would reach the final of the Monte Carlo Masters, only to lose out to the King of Clay himself, Rafael Nadal. Nishikori backed it up with a last eight appearance at Wimbledon then reached the semi-finals at the US Open, forcing his way back into the ATP’s top ten as a result.
"I want to gun for my best, as I always have, and win a Grand Slam title or a Masters title... that is my goal," the 38-year-old told Kyodo News.
"I played without pressure this year. I was able to take a full swing at tennis, but I know I need to aim higher next year."
Nishikori went on to explain the seriousness of his wrist injury, which doctors said could end his career unless he gets surgery. The 11-time ATP winner decided against it and opted for rehabilitation instead.
"I was scared," revealed Nishikori.
"The wrist is needed in tennis. I just kept thinking I would always have to play with this feeling of anxiety.
"I went without surgery but I was told there was a possibility that it might happen again. I kept playing with my major goal being a return [to the top of the rankings]. I had a feeling throughout this season that I was climbing a staircase, one step at a time.
"I played at the net more this season and was able to pull off more aggressive plays. Getting injured gave me the opportunity to re-examine some small things like my serves. I trained well during the layoff, so I'm in good physical shape."