Tokyo: Japan's Kei Nishikori has the ability to reach the summit of men's tennis and is technically already better than World No 1 Novak Djokovic, says his former mentor.
Shuzo Matsuoka told AFP yesterday that it was "only a matter of time" before Nishikori, who broke into the top five last season, captured his first Grand Slam title.
"Kei is hitting the ball harder and controlling opponents more than last year," Matsuoka said in an interview.
"He has a decent chance of winning the French Open. He's knocking on the door. I'm not being biased, but he plays better tennis than Djokovic or (Rafa) Nadal."
Matsuoka, who has watched Nishikori develop since first encountering him as a shy 11-year-old, added: "Seeing Kei dominating on clay puts him right behind Djokovic in terms of who you would fancy to win right now.
I don't think anyone would write off his chances at the French Open. He has a good shot." Nishikori (25) retained his Barcelona title over the weekend.