Kei Nishikori says he is confident he can produce his best ever performance at the French Open after booking his place in the second round.
The world number six defeated Simone Bolelli 6-1 7-5 6-3 in a rain-delayed match at Roland Garros on Monday and will now face Andrey Kuznetsov.
Nishikori reached the quarter-finals in Paris 12 months ago and appears to have grown in stature since then, and certainly has the game to succeed on clay.
Two wins in Barcelona prove his pedigree on the dirt and being in the opposite side of the draw to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal could give him a great chance of reaching the last four.
Nishikori could still face defending champion Stan Wawrinka and second seed Andy Murray, meaning things will not be easy for him if he is to have any chance of making his second Grand Slam final.
The Japanese star is optimistic about his chances and admits he is pleased to have avoided the possibility of facing either Djokovic or Nadal before the showpiece.
“I really feel confident, especially these past three years. I have won Barcelona two times.
Couldn’t defend this title this year, but I have been beating top-10 guys on clay,” he said.
“But on clay, I think the biggest challenge is beating Rafa and Novak and Andy, too. I think that’s my next challenge.”
Nishikori is currently 19.00 to win the French Open, with Djokovic the 1.70 favourite and Murray his closest rival at 4.33.