Kei Nishikori: Alexei Popyrin can’t bring his best on grass yet

Former world No. 4 Kei Nishikori felt the experience of playing on grass helped him beat Alexei Popyrin in his Wimbledon opener.

Nishikori, now ranked at No. 53 in the world, handed a 6-4 6-4 6-4 loss to rising Australian star Popyrin in his Wimbledon opener. 

“I’m feeling nothing in particular about my 100th Grand Slam match win, don’t know what to say. But considering today’s match, I feel like experience matters. He can be a better player on other surface, but he has not played much on grass, can’t bring his best on grass yet,” Nishikori said, as revealed by Seidoumogera/Twitter. 

“I expected return was gonna be a key, was able to play aggressively especially on his 2nd serve & constitute points well. On grass it’s easier to hold my serve but still a bit tougher for me than taller players

“Have to work on how to hold my serve more easily. Good thing on grass is hitting a return at my shoulder level happens less often, so when I read opponent’s serve it’s easier to make a return & with a good return I can make quick transition to attack, that could be my advantage.”

Nishikori gained confidence 

“I got a bit of confidence from today, but still need more matches. Points end quickly on grass, that enables players with a certain big weapon to win even when he is not at best, so it’s suitable surface for coming-back players to get confidence,” Nishikori added. 

“You need everything to win on clay, but on grass you can win with serve, return, volley and some other weapons, you can have more chances. Anyway my serve is gonna be a key, it’s about hold my serve.”

Nishikori has never made it past the quarterfinal stage at Wimbledon. 

Nishikori made back-to-back quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019.