Nishikori withdraws from Australian Open

andrew hendrie:

Kei Nishikori has announced his withdrawal from the ATP Cup and Australian Open as he continues to recover from elbow surgery.

Nishikori, who hasn’t played since a third round loss to Alex de Minaur at the U.S. Open in September, said he wasn’t ready to compete in January after undergoing minor surgery on his elbow in October.

“Unfortunately I have to pull out of the ATP Cup and the Aussie Open,” he said. “Today, together with my team, we have made this decision as I am still not 100 per cent ready (or) healthy to compete at the highest level.

“This decision was not taken lightly as Australia is one of my favourite places to compete.

“Together with my team I will keep working hard to be back on court as soon as possible. Thanks for all the support.”

Read more: Nadal and Djokovic arrive in Australia for ATP Cup

A former World No. 4 and U.S. Open runner-up in 2014, Nishikori slipped to No. 13 at the end of the 2019 season after shutting down his year in September.

Haunted by frequent injuries throughout his career, Nishikori also missed the Australian Open in 2018, returning via the Challenger circuit in February of that season before going on to break back into the top 10, making the Monte-Carlo Masters final and the third Grand Slam semi-final of his career at the U.S. Open.

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Nishikori snapped a three-year title drought by winning the Brisbane International to launch his 2019 campaign, while he also made three major quarter-finals at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

Nishikori, who turned 30 on Monday, joins Andy Murray on the sidelines after the Scot confirmed his withdrawal from the ATP Cup and Australian Open on Sunday due to a pelvic injury.

Lucas Pouille, who made the Australian Open semi-finals last year before going down to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, has also pulled out of the opening Grand Slam of the season with injury.