London - Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man in 23
years to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Monday and then predicted a
"war" with Novak Djokovic to get to the last four.
Nishikori, 28, overcame an arm injury to reach his first All
England Club quarter-final with a 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (12/10), 6-1 win over
Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis.
But having become the first Japanese man to reach the
quarter-finals since Shuzo Matsuoka in 1995, Nishikori must now overturn a 13-2
career losing record against three-time champion Djokovic on Wednesday.
"He's always like a big war for me. I always enjoy
playing against him. It's always big challenge," said Nishikori.
The Japanese player has already lost twice to the former
world number one this year - on clay in Madrid and Rome.
Although the two have never met on grass, Nishikori is still
hamstrung by the knowledge that the last of his two wins against the Serb was
in 2014 in a memorable semi-final victory at the US Open.
"Maybe I don't have good results or good record with
him, but I always enjoy playing him.
"He's one of the best players on the tour."
Adding to Nishikori's problems is a worrying right arm
injury which required extensive treatment and a medical time-out in his win
over world 130 Gulbis, the man who had put out fourth seed Alezander Zverev in
the third round.
"My elbow was bothering me little bit," admitted
"From the second, it got better and I just tried to
stay calm and fight every game."
Djokovic, meanwhile, reached the quarter-finals for the 10th
time with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over Russia's Karen Khachanov.
Seeded 12, Wednesday will Djokovic's 41st appearance in a
Grand Slam quarter-final.
His match against Nishikori will fall on the first
anniversary of him having to retire from his 2017 quarter-final against Tomas
Berdcyh with an elbow injury.
That precipitated a lengthy absence from the tour and a
worrying dip in form and confidence.
However, the 31-year-old has looked back to something
approaching his best at Wimbledon.
"I like my chances against Nishikori," said
He added: "I played very well in Queen's (where he
finished runner-up) coming into Wimbledon.
"I haven't spent too much time on the court. I feel
physically, mentally ready, fit, positive."
Djokovic's run to the Queen's final on the eve of Wimbledon
was his first appearance in a championship match since Eastbourne almost 12
That was a boost after a shock quarter-final exit at the
French Open to world number 72 Marco Cecchinato of Italy.
"I didn't feel comfortable on the court for long time.
Indian Wells, Miami, most of the clay court season," added Djokovic.
"I just had to go back to basics and hit as many balls
as I can on the practice courts, just get that feel.
"Also psychologically obviously, I was so fortunate to
have so much success on the tour over the course of 10-plus years.
"I was top 3 player for so many years in a row, it was
quite a strange feeling for me not to be able to deliver my game.
"But things are looking much better in the last month
and a half."