Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori returns to Tokyo to defend his title. But the draw did him no favors. The 25-year-old opens against talented teen Borna Coric in his very match.
“We’ve never played before,” said Nishikori who has won Tokyo two of the last three years. “We just had one practice together last week. It’s going to be a new match, but everything is going well. He’s one of the young guys playing good tennis, so it’s going to be a dangerous match.”
The second seeded Nishikori would meet Sam Querrey or Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round, then potentially Maric Cilic in the quarters in the rematch of their 2014 US Open final.
In the semis, he’s seeded to meet either Richard Gasquet or Grigor Dimitrov.
“It’s really fun to play on the stadium here. Even on Sunday a lot of people show up for practice. It’s great for Japanese tennis. I’m very happy to be playing here. I feel comfortable and look forward to their support tomorrow.”
Reigning French Open champion Stan Wawrinka is the top seed but is in a relatively easy section. He’ll meet veteran Radek Stepanek and could run into either Kevin Anderson or Gilles Simon the semifinals.
Nishikori is the only former champion in the draw. With Beijing paying so much, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych are all in China this week.
Like Beijing, however, Tokyo also offers 500 points to the winner. Tokyo is the longest running event in Asia, since 1972.
MONDAY TOKYO SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
[WC] Y. Nishioka (JPN) vs [WC] T. Ito (JPN)
A. Dolgopolov (UKR) vs S. Querrey (USA)
B. Coric (CRO) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
J. Vesely (CZE) vs [WC] Y. Uchiyama (JPN)
Not Before 6:00 pm
[WC] T. Matsui (JPN) / J. Nieminen (FIN) vs A. Qureshi (PAK) / G. Simon (FRA)
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