Kei Nishikori will return to professional tennis in January, but not at the season's first Grand Slam in Melbourne.
Nishikori has withdrawn from the Australian Open, but the former World No. 4 is planning on launching his comeback at the inaugural ATP Challenger Tour event at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in Newport Beach, U.S.A, to be held 20-28 January.
The tournament is part of the inaugural Oracle Challenger Series, which also will include a Challenger event from 24 February – 4 March in Indian Wells, in the lead up to the BNP Paribas Open, the season's first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. Both tournaments will feature $150,000 prize money.
“I am very excited and looking forward to getting back on the court in January,” Nishikori said. “The Oracle Challenger Series is a perfect event in a great Southern California location to help me get some match play. This will be a great opportunity to face some high-level competition.”
The 28-year-old Nishikori also plans to compete at the $125,000 Challenger in Dallas, U.S.A. The RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas will take place from 29 January – 4 February.
Nishikori, 28, hasn't played since 9 August, when he fell to Gael Monfils at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal. The Japanese star had to cut short his 2017 season because of an injury to his right wrist. He is currently No. 22 in the ATP Rankings.