Tokyo: Japan`s Kei Nishikori on Tuesday confessed to feeling a tad envious of his tennis rivals being cheered on courtside by wives and girlfriends, but showed lightning footwork to dodge the six million dollar question.
"Tennis players are always on the road so it must help relieve some of the stress for the players who have their partners travelling with them," the 24-year-old told a news conference in Tokyo. "It would be nice to have someone like that with me on tour one day."
Nishikori, who has climbed to number five in the world after a breakout year in which he became the first Asian to reach a grand slam final, has been romantically linked with former Olympic gymnast Honami Tsuboi. But when probed on the subject, he executed a perfect stop volley to end the discussion.
"I have lots of people who support me -- my family, my team, coach, my big sister," he said. "A fan once asked me to marry them (during a match) but I wasn`t confident enough to offer a response."
The Japanese superstar also admitted that he had felt like a small boy among giants at last week`s ATP Tour Finals in London, but warned the world`s top three Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal: the bigger you are, the harder you fall.
"I felt like a little child at the Tour Finals," Nishikori said ahead of a fun-match against Andre Agassi this weekend and a welcome two-week break.
"I was the smallest of the eight players, but I feel I have weapons other players don`t have -- maybe extra quickness and a different style of play. I have a little power too."
Nishikori added: "I`ve learnt how to handle the pressure in big matches. And I really hate losing. It`s my biggest motivation."
He described Federer, who has won a record 17 grand slam singles titles, as the player he fears the most, despite the Swiss maestro being in the twilight of his illustrious career at 33.
"Federer is still the most frightening," said Nishikori, who beat Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals this year before losing to Croatian Marin Cilic in the championship decider. "The way Federer pulls off wonder shots, almost nonchalantly. He has it all."
Having lost 6-3, 6-2 to Federer in round-robin play last week in London, Nishikori went down 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 to Djokovic in the semi-finals.
"The way Djokovic is playing now he looks untouchable at times," said Nishikori, who won four titles in 2014. "But this has been my best season ever and I`ll look to build on it by winning a grand slam title next year."