Former world No. 4 Kei Nishikori acknowledged that losing her serve at the start of the fifth set against Mackenzie McDonald was the wake up call he needed.
Nishikori appeared to be heading toward a straight-set win over McDonald but the American refused to quit after falling down by two sets.
However, Nishikori managed to prevent a McDonald comeback as he beat the American 7-6 (3) 6-3 6-7 (5) 2-6 6-3.
“I was trying to find a solution, whether I have to go for it or just put balls in. After I got broken in the first game of the fifth set, finally I started moving on, hitting balls well with less unforced errors,” Nishikori said after his win over McDonald, per Seiadoumogera/Twitter.
“Thought I was able to prevent his attack with my various shots, but in the third and fourth sets, he was hitting forehand winners from far behind the baseline while I was just waiting for his errors. I prepared a lot, but he went above and beyond.”
Nishikori prepared to face Novak Djokovic
Nishikori noted that quickly recovering from a break down in the fifth set was the key.
“That match, every set could go either way. I was able to break his service games in a row after getting broken in the fifth set to make it from 0-1 to 3-1, I’d say that was the key. My play and mindset changed drastically at that moment,” Nishikori noted.
Nishikori now plays world No. 1 Djokovic — to whom he recently lost 6-2 6-0 at the Tokyo Olympics.
“At the Olympics, it was kind of my fault, I just played bad, gave him early breaks in both sets, let him play comfortably. I have a plan of what I want to do in my mind, if I can implement that and play well, I would have some chance,” Nishikori insisted.