Following a remarkable breakthrough season on the ATP World Tour, Kei Nishikori now has the support of Andre Agassi, who believes he is destined to win a Grand Slam title in the near future.
“There is no question in my mind he believes he can win a slam,” the former world number one told AFP following an exhibition match in Tokyo. “I’ve seen him play with that purpose. From a talent perspective, he’s very capable of winning a grand slam. He’s dynamic and incredibly fast.”
Agassi, 44, explained that Nishikori was just a few sets away from lifting the United States Open title this season – a fortnight in Flushing Meadows that saw him topple world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in four sets in the semi-final round.
“He beat Djokovic on the way to the US Open final, and if he did it once he can do it again,” said Agassi. “He was one match away from US Open. Probably the biggest reason for (not winning the title) was the physical wear and tear over the course of the tournament, and sometimes that’s a bit unlucky.”
Gifted with one of the most versatile games in modern tennis, Nishikori is capable of matching any of the top competitors on his best day. Agassi, who won a total of eight Grand Slam titles throughout his career, has no doubt that the Japanese star’s talents will lead him to a Major championship in the future.
“What he’s done is very impressive in this day and age to do the way he does it. Kei is one of the greatest shot-makers the game has ever seen and there’s no reason he can’t go on further.”
However, Agassi also made it clear that talent is only the tip of the iceberg when considering the necessary sacrifices required to become a champion.
“Being number one and doing it over the course of a career requires good decision-making, not just talent. He’s somebody who has to be mindful of his body, so that he’s healthy all year.