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Japan Star hits Pain Barrier in Basel

So often is the case in tennis that winners of big ATP tournaments or Grand Slams feel the pain of their victories only days later, when another competition comes along. Kei Nishikori, who lifted the Japan Open title a fortnight ago, as expected in the early tennis previews, this week suffered from the same fate.

Nishikori has been forced to pull out of the Swiss Indoors because of injury to his right ankle. The Japanese number one complained about feeling pain in his ankle after losing to United States’ Sam Querry in the second round of the Shanghai Masters event, suggesting life after an ATP title is not as cushy as one would hope.

Nishikori, who won the Swiss Indoors event last year, revealed his exit on Twitter: “I had an MRI on my right ankle and unfortunately will not be able to play Basel yet.”

So, just 12 days after winning the Japanese Open, Nishikori has crashed out of one tournament early and not made another. Coincidence? Maybe, but the fact that Nishikori went straight into another ATP tournament after his Japanese Open crown may have had a detrimental effect on his fitness.

A perfect example of why a player should take time out after a long tournament is Andy Murray.

The world number three immediately shifted to hard-court tournaments after his London 2012 final victory over Rodger Federer in the summer and pulled out of the Toronto Masters before crashing in Cincinnati with injury. He came back too soon and suffered because of it.

Although the Japan Open is not played at the intensity of the Olympics, Nishikori should have nevertheless taken a week or so out the game to rest his legs and – importantly – soak up the victory.

His eagerness to get back into the tour has meant he will not defend his Swiss crown this autumn and this could hamper his post-season if the problem continues. Whether he will prove to be popular with fans making Australian Open bets remains to be seen.
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