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Takahashi looking for comeback at NHK Trophy

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NAGANO, Japan (AP)

Daisuke Takahashi is taking some inspiration from World Series MVP Hideki Matsui when he competes at this weekend's NHK Trophy.

The connection between a figure skater and the New York Yankees slugger may seem tenuous, but Takahashi and Matsui have more in common that their nationality. Both had major knee surgery and, like Matsui, Takahashi is hoping to make a big comeback after a layoff.

Matsui's record-tying six RBIs on Wednesday helped the Yankees to a clinching 7-3 win over Philadelphia and their 27th title.

"That was quite a performance," Takahashi said Friday. "I'm very proud of him, as are all Japanese people, and hopefully I can bounce back like he did."

The 2007 world silver medalist missed all of last season with a knee injury, and is hoping to win a spot at the Vancouver Olympics on what will be a competitive Japanese men's team.

Takahashi was No. 1 in the world when he injured his right knee in practice just over a year ago. With damage to the anterior cruciate ligament and cartilage, he had to skip the 2008-09 season and have major surgery.

He won the Finlandia Trophy last month, but the NHK will be his first major event since the 2008 world championships in Goteborg, Sweden.

"My condition is very good," Takahashi said. "The knee is fully recovered. I'm feeling a little nervous about the NHK, but I also have high expectations for myself and am very excited to be competing again."

Other men competing in the NHK, which begins Friday, include Americans Johnny Weir, Adam Rippon and Jeremy Abbott, and Takahashi's compatriot Takahiro Kozuka. France's Brian Joubert, the 2007 world champion, is also skating.

Japan's Miki Ando, who won the Rostelecom Cup two weeks ago in Russia, highlights the women's program. Yukari Nakano, American Ashley Wagner and Finland's Laura Lepisto are the other top women competing.

The NHK is the fourth of six stops on the International Skating Union's Grand Prix circuit. The next event will be Skate America in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The top six skaters in each discipline qualify for the Grand Prix final, which will be held in Tokyo from Dec. 3-6.

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