Roger Federer is looking for a 100th singles title in London this week, but he will have to go the long way round after losing his opening match last night in a flurry of miscued groundstrokes.
Having dug in early on to stay with Federer, Nishikori ended up running away with the match to inflict a first straight sets defeat in the ATP Finals round-robin stages on the 20-time Grand Slam champion. Something is going to have to change in the next 48 hours.
"To fend Federer off and then in the tie-breaker, Nishikori played a good solid tie-breaker". Federer's game was unusually disjointed. He even received a code violation for banging the ball into the crowd.
He said: "Overall I'm hitting the ball alright, the warm-up was fine. You could tell it was sort of a first round", he said. I had my chances maybe a bit more than he did. "The best of three set matches indoors, the margins are slimmer". That set up a tiebreak that saw both men have ample chances. That was important at the end.
DOMINIC THIEM (25/Austria/8): Contesting the opening match against Anderson (15.00 CET/Sky). The tiebreaker was a horror show as Federer fell behind 6-1 before Nishikori eventually closed it out 7-4. This year, Federer won the Australian Open, Nadal won the French Open, while Djokovic won Wimbledon and the US Open.
"Next to the Grand Slams and the ATP Finals, being No1 is probably the ultimate challenge in our sport".
"But there was always part of me that believed I could make it back and I never thought it was impossible", he said.
He admitted his practice has been "a bit all over the place" but had no excuses.
City vs United: Predicting the Manchester United XI for the derby
Manchester United will be travelling to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday knowing very well that a loss could all but end their title hopes.
The trophy was presented by the President of the ATP, Chris Kermode, to the current President of the Players Council, in front of a still full Centre Court at the O2. Warm-up today was totally fine. I think fans know that.
But the tournament, which starts on Sunday, lacks an element of star power without the injured Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro, both of whom were forced to pull out of the season finale. Nishikori began 2018 by playing in two Challenger Tour events to find his confidence after a serious wrist injury.
The Swiss legend lost for the first time in a round robin match in two sets in London.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC (31/Serbia/number 1): The Serb as the Favourite in the tournament. It also happened in 2007 (and he came back to win the tournament) and '08. Plays the so far most consistent season of his career.
'Over the last ten years I've been quite consistent, ' Isner said when asked about his success this year. "Let's put it that way".
The Austrian made a match of it in the second set and was involved in a gripping tiebreak but went down 6-3 7-6 (10).
On Tuesday, Federer plays Thiem, who leads the Swiss 2-1 in their career head-to-heads.
Doubles players are paid significantly less, with an undefeated pair earning $517,000 between them for winning the title and $200,000 if they are beaten along the way. "That's pretty much it".