January 3, 2018 / 11:16 PM / a year ago

Nishikori withdraws from Australian Open

Tennis - Wimbledon - London, Britain - July 7, 2017 Japan’s Kei Nishikori reacts during his third round match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

(Reuters) - Japan’s Kei Nishikori has pulled out of this month’s Australian Open as he continues to recover from a wrist injury, the world number 22 said on Wednesday.

The former U.S. Open finalist, who last year reached the fourth round of the first grand slam of the season in Melbourne, has been sidelined since August and said he still could not handle playing best-of-five-set matches.

“The Aussie Open is my favourite slam... it’s my ‘home’ slam ... and it hurts that I will have to miss it this year,” Nishikori, 28, said in a statement posted on his website.

“My rehab is going well but I am just not ready 100 percent to come back yet in best-of-five-set matches.”

Nishikori was ninth in the world rankings before sustaining a season-ending wrist injury ahead of the Cincinnati Masters last August.

He had been hoping to make his return at the season-opening Brisbane International, where he was runner-up in 2017, but withdrew from that event 11 days ago.

Nishikori became the first Japanese man to reach a grand slam final at the 2014 U.S. Open but did not compete at Flushing Meadows last year because of his injury.

The Australian Open will be played from Jan. 15-28.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ed Osmond/John O'Brien

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