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Nishikori says injury better but ‘not 100 percent’

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PARIS (AP) — Tenth-ranked Kei Nishikori’s hurt left hip is not completely healed, but he said Saturday that it “should be OK” for the start of the French Open.

The first Japanese player to reach the ATP’s top 10 told The Associated Press at Roland Garros that treatment he received for the injury while recuperating last week at home in Florida helped.

“It’s getting better,” Nishikori said. “It’s obviously not 100 percent yet, but … it should be OK.”

The 24-year-old Nishikori was forced to pull out of the final of the clay-court Madrid Open against Rafael Nadal on May 11 because of the hip, ending a 14-match winning streak that included a title on clay at the Barcelona Open.

Nishikori won the first set against Nadal and then was leading 4-2 in the second when the pain came. Nishikori continued to play for a while, but stopped after dropping seven games in a row to drop the second set and trail 3-0 in the third.

Afterward, Nishikori said he had been “playing almost (the) best tennis in my life” at the outset of that match against Nadal, an eight-time champion at the French Open.

Nishikori withdrew from the Italian Open the following week and headed to Florida.

He has been practicing this week on the red clay at Roland Garros, coached by 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang.

The tournament begins Sunday. Nishikori, who is seeded ninth in Paris, is scheduled to face 62nd-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia in the first round.

A year ago at the French Open, Nishikori made it to the fourth round before losing to Nadal. It was Nishikori’s best showing at Roland Garros – and the best by any Japanese man at the tournament in 75 years.

So far in 2014, Nishikori is 27-5 with two titles. He reached a career-best ranking of No. 9 on May 12.

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