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Kei Nishikori aiming for big wins in 2017 after stand-out year

Kei Nishikori is targeting a grand slam breakthrough next season after enjoying the "best year" of his career so far.

The world No. 5 claimed an ATP Tour title, Olympic bronze, and recorded a career-high 58 wins, but could only manage one grand slam semifinal at the US Open.

"A year that I won most matches does carry some significance but what is important is how much I can win at big tournaments," Nishikori was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.

"Result-wise this has been my best year. I've played well against the top-10 players and have been winning against the likes of [Rafa] Nadal and [Andy] Murray, who I couldn't beat before.

"I'm making fewer mistakes as I get older. I hope to keep building, bit-by-bit."

Nishikori kicked off his year by reaching the last eight at the Australian Open before winning his only title of the year at the Memphis Open.

However, his results at the French Open and Wimbledon were less impressive as he failed to make it beyond the fourth round at either event.

The Japanese No. 1 picked up bronze in the men's singles at the Rio Olympics, defeating 2008 champion Rafael Nadal in the third-place play-off. He followed that up with a last-four appearance at Flushing Meadows, going down to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka.

Nishikori qualified comfortably for the year-end ATP World Tour Finals, but was defeated by Novak Djokovic in a 6-1, 6-1 semifinal thrashing.

"I'm confident I have the ability to challenge for world No. 3 and 4," Nishikori added. "I need to be more cautious while determining which points in the match I have to focus and how I can win break points in a more assured manner."