Can Raonic and Nishikori Make Strong Comebacks?

Dominick Capolupo (Contributor) @dcaps241199

Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic both missed a lot of time in 2017 due to injury and have dropped in the rankings because of it. Nishikori enters 2018 ranked 22nd in the world while Raonic sits right behind him in 24th. Both players are in similar positions entering 2018, but let’s look at how each of them could fair in 2018.

Nishikori The Injury Prone

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Let’s start with Kei Nishikori. He ended his season on August 16th this year due to a right wrist injury. That forced him to miss Cincinnati, the US Open, the Asian swing, and the World Tour Finals. Nishikori was the world number 9 at the time but has dropped to world number 22.

Nishikori intends to start his season in Brisbane where he was finalist a year ago. That means he has 150 points to defend there and an early exit there could have Nishikori ranked around 28 going into the Australian Open. He made it to the fourth round in the Australian Open where he lost a five-set thriller to eventual champion Roger Federer. Therefore, he has another 180 points to defend. The rankings won’t favor Nishikori, but he has shown he can play well on hard courts and is a threat. It will be important for him to win as much as possible and go deep into tournaments early so he can get favorable draws later in the season.

There is a lot of potential when it comes to Nishikori, especially on the hard courts. His movement and world-class backhand make him extremely dangerous, but the one thing that has stopped him his whole career is injuries. The only way for him to make a comeback is to avoid all these injuries. Nishikori has retired from a match at least once every year the past 5 years. He has a game that can match the top players but he isn’t healthy on court as much as them. It will be tougher for a comeback to be made with all this young talent coming in, but Nishikori is only 27 and he still has many years on the tour provided he stays healthy. A healthy Nishikori will add to the already powerful lineup of players next year.

Does the Canadian cold make Raonic brittle?

Raonic aims to make strong comeback in 2018

Now onto Milos Raonic. He, like Nishikori, is a grand slam finalist (Wimbledon 2016). When healthy, Raonic is one of the most dangerous players in tennis. His powerful serve got him to where he has, but he has developed a ripping forehand and a consistent backhand which has given trouble to players like Federer and Nadal.

He struggled with a wrist injury for the majority of 2017 and it really showed in the match against Federer in the Wimbledon Quarter-Finals where he got swept off the court by the eventual champion. Raonic is entered to play in Brisbane where he won the title in 2016 and was a semi-finalist last year so he has 90 points to defend. Raonic will enter the Australian Open ranked somewhere in the mid-20s. He made the Quarter-Finals last year so that means he has 360 points to defend so there is a chance for him to drop in the rankings, but Roger Federer was in the same predicament a year ago and ended the tournament ranked #9 after winning the title so anything could happen at the beginning of the season.

Raonic is a strong player on grass and hard courts and is a major threat. So if he can return at 100% and avoid further injury, he will, just like Nishikori, add to arguably the most powerful lineup of players in the history of men’s tennis.

Both players are in their prime athletically, so time is on their side to make a successful comeback. We have seen what both players can do as they are both grand slam finalists and they have the potential to repeat those feats if they both can avoid more injuries in 2018.

  • Dominick is from Jackson, NJ and studies Sports Journalism at the University of Bridgeport. He got into tennis by watching Roger Federer growing up.

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