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Japan's Nishikori calls Pan Pacific loss 'bad news'

Kei-Nishikori copyMELBOURNE: Kei Nishikori Sunday admitted Japan losing its top tennis tournament to China was "bad news" but added that he wanted more events in the region to encourage emerging players.


The world number 18 called it "sad" that the 30-year-old Pan Pacific Open women's tournament had been replaced by a new event in China as part of a push into the country by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).


"Yeah, it is bad news. But I don't know much about why they moved to China, so I can't say anything," he said at the Australian Open. "Yeah, it's sad to see. I want more tournaments in Japan."


Wuhan, home city of Chinese star Li Na, will host a new tournament next year in place of Tokyo's Pan Pacific, whose list of winners includes Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Maria Sharapova.


New events in Shenzhen and Hong Kong will take the number of women's tournaments on Chinese territory to five by next year as the WTA puts heavy emphasis on the country.


But Nishikori backed moves to bring more events to the Asia-Pacific region.


The 23-year-old became the Japan Open's first home-grown winner last year and Australia's Bernard Tomic, 20, won his maiden title in Sydney on Saturday.


Nishikori also reached the quarter-finals at last year's Australian Open, the best ever Grand Slam performance by a Japanese man.


"I want to see more tournaments in Asia. A lot of guys are coming now. Tomic just won a tournament. I think we're doing great," Nishikori said.


"So hopefully more players are coming up and more tournaments will be played in Asia."


Nishikori added that his knee was 90 percent fit after an injury which forced him out of this month's Brisbane International. But he admitted to feeling extra pressure after last year's run at the Australian Open.


"It's going to be pressure for sure from the first round," said Nishikori, who plays Romania's Victor Hanescu on Monday.


"But I'm getting a lot of confidence getting through last year and won the  Japan Open, beating a lot of top 10 players. I'm getting a lot of confidence, so hopefully I can go play my best tennis and get a good result."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013