BRISBANE, AAP - Kei Nishikori says he would've arrived in Melbourne happy even if he had lost a tenth-straight ATP final on Sunday.
But the smile on the Japanese world No.9's face while holding the Brisbane International trophy aloft told just how important the victory was.
Nishikori got a near three-year-old monkey off his back with the defeat of Daniil Medvedev at Pat Rafter Arena, the title snapping a run of nine finals losses since his last tour win in February 2016.
The victory followed a semi-final performance Nishikori described as "almost perfect" and came as a relief after he lost the decider in Brisbane two years ago.
"To win the tournament is very emotional, and I mean that's why I'm playing," he said.
Three times a quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park, Nishikori missed last year's Australian Open with a wrist injury and is keen to return with his title drought broken.
"The main goal is to do well in the Australian Open, but I'm really happy that I've been playing really well this week," he said.
"Even if I lose today, I think I was very confident, and some of the matches I played one of the best."
Once as high as No.4 in the world, Nishikori drifted out to 39 in April last year before lifting himself back inside the top 10.
"I'm happy to go into Melbourne, one of my favourite tournaments there," he said.
"I feel almost home there, so I hope I can do well, better than a quarter-final."
your source for betting information