Nadal Readies For Nishikori Battle
by Dana Hatic|
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal prepared today for his first match of the Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday, against Japan’s Kei Nishikori. Nadal has never won the Miami tournament, despite two finals appearances and a semi-final loss to champion Andy Roddick last year. Nadal comes to Miami at the top of the draw, even after last week’s loss to No. 2 Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells.
As No. 1, Nadal said, “I just accept the challenge and try to play my best tennis. That's only way to win the tournament where all the best players of the world are playing.” Djokovic, the No. 2 seed, won this tournament in 2007, and No. 3 Roger Federer won back-to-back in 2005 and 2006.
Nadal is seeded to meet either Roger Federer or Andy Roddick in the semi-finals. The last time he met arch rival Federer in the semi-finals of a regular tournament was at Roland Garros in 2005.
The Spaniard noted the need for some improvements on his game from Indian Wells, and addressed the low level of tennis he played in the early rounds. “Semi-finals and final I improved my level of tennis, but during the final my serve worked terrible. So that's the first thing. I have to serve better if I want to have chances to compete against all the players,” he said. Nadal worked with his coach and uncle, Toni, to fix the serve, and will “see tomorrow how it hopefully works better.”
Nadal is 2-0 in meetings with Nishikori. The two men play at 8:00 p.m. Saturday on stadium court.
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