Nishikori ups the aggro to avoid slipping on grass

London (AFP) –


Kei Nishikori is turning up the aggression in a bid to win the Wimbledon title and get over the grasscourt blues that have dogged his career.

The Japanese star is the world number nine but all his 22 tournament final appearances have come away from the grass on either hard or clay courts -- something he is desperate to put right at the All England Club this year.

Nishikori reached the 2014 US Open final and has made the quarter-finals three times at the Australian Open and twice at the French Open in the other Grand Slams.

But he has never gone further than two last-16 appearances at Wimbledon and so the 27-year-old is switching up his game in a bid to break the hoodoo.

"I'm trying to win the whole thing. That's my goal," he said after downing Italy's Marco Cecchinato 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in the first round on Monday.

"This is only the Grand Slam that I haven't done well in. I never made the quarter-finals. That's always my motivation, to go into the second week. This last couple of years, I've been playing good on grass. Fit again. So I hope I can make it.

"I'm getting better every year, playing little more aggressive than usual. That's something I'm trying to do: a little more flat balls, and coming in a little more, serve and volley. Little minor changes. It's going in a good way."

- Back to fitness -

Nishikori had to pull out of the Halle warm-up tournament with an on-court back injury but he said it did not trouble him at all during his first round stroll.

"After I got injured, I had a couple of days off. Now I'm feeling very good, feeling 100 percent again. I'm looking really forward to this fight this two weeks," he said.

Injuries on the grass courts have plagued Nishikori throughout his professional career.

"Every year it's challenging for me to play a lot of matches. There are a couple of reasons, playing a lot of matches on clay, and coming here, it's not easy to get prepared for this grass court season. But I think it's getting better," he said.

"I don't know why this injury is coming every year. But I'm trying to get as healthy as I can. Every year it's improving."

The Japanese number one was delighted with how his Wimbledon opener went.

"It was very good. I think he wasn't ready. So he had a little bit of a tough time. But for me, I played very good tennis from the beginning. I never had this kind of quick match. So I'm very, very happy to win."

The ninth seed will play either France's Julien Benneteau or Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky in the last 64 on Wednesday.