Kei Nishikori says he's gaining in confidence after his first win in over a year, and hopes for more matches ahead of the French Open.

Nishikori, who made the final of the US Open in 2014, has been on the comeback trail after undergoing elbow surgery last year and then testing positive for coronavirus in August.

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He secured his first win since the 2019 US Open with a 6-4 7-6(3) success over Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Rome Masters on Monday.

"I was very pleased to be on the court today, first win on the Tour," he said.

"I'm still not feeling 100 per cent tennis-wise but I enjoyed. Now it's important to have as many matches as I can, keep winning. I need to start getting into a good tempo, good rhythm."

Nishikori played at Kitzbuhel in Austria last week, but the former world No 4 lost his opening match on clay.

"Today was much better than last week, maybe twice better," he said, trying to build his confidence ahead of the French Open, where the main draw starts on September 27.

"I think at some moments I still don't have confidence ... but little by little I'm getting better. If I can have many more matches before French Open, it will be good."

Nishikori needed six match points to secure his opening win and could next play three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, who will meet Italian qualifier Lorenzo Musetti later on Tuesday.

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