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Nishikori likes odds in diluted field

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kei Nishikori talks to the press after arriving in Rio on Wednesday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun RIO DE JANIERO — Part of Kei Nishikori regrets the absence of several top players from the men’s Olympic tennis tournament. The other part sees it as a good chance to come away with an elusive medal.

“I’m gradually getting into the Olympic mood,” said Nishikori upon arriving Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro from his training base in Florida. “I have a chance this time, so I want to win a medal. I’m aiming for the gold.”

Nishikori, ranked sixth in the ATP rankings, is seeded fourth in his third trip to the Olympics, where he will attempt to become the first Japanese medalist in men’s tennis in 96 years.

Five of the top 10 players in the world are skipping the Olympics, including No. 3 Roger Federer and No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, both of Switzerland. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia is the top seed.

Also seeded ahead of Nishikori is Britain’s Andy Murray at No. 2 and Spain’s Rafael Nadal at No. 3, but the earliest he would have to face either of them or Djokovic would be the semifinals.

“Many top players have pulled out, so there is an aspect of missing them,” Nishikori said. “But I want to make the most of this chance.”

Murray, the defending champion, was quoted as saying that there are still enough players from the top 20 to make the tournament extremely competitive.

The 26-year-old Nishikori lost in the first round at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and was ousted in the quarterfinals four years later in London.

Later Wednesday, Nishikori practiced on the Olympic court with Yuichi Sugita, who is also on the Japanese team. At the earliest, he will play his opening match on Saturday.Speech

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