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Kei Nishikori not yet at his best

After surviving yet another challenging encounter, Kei Nishikori insisted he was getting close to his best.

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Kei Nishikori believes he is "getting close" to his best form after reaching the Australian Open third round on Thursday.

For the second straight match, the Japanese fifth seed was tested before progressing.

This time, he overcame Croatian Ivan Dodig 4-6 7-5 6-2 7-6 (7-0) on a hot Melbourne day.

Nishikori said he was slowly approaching his peak, eager not to reach it too early at the year's first grand slam.

"I think [I'm] getting close," he told a media conference.

"Maybe these couple matches didn't play 100 per cent, but still winning good three-set and four-set [wins].

"I think it's getting there. I'm playing good. For sure this match will help for next match. You know, try to be 100 per cent little by little."

Nishikori is yet to drop a set in two wins against his next opponent, American Steve Johnson.

One of those victories came to start this year, a 6-4 7-5 win in Brisbane.

"We just play in Brisbane. He's tough player. Good serve. Really good serve," Nishikori said of Johnson.

"Coming to the net a lot and big forehand, so have to be careful couple things to play against him. Try to be ready for next match."

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