Written by Senior Tennis Editor Peter Gehr
One of the hottest up-and-coming newcomers Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori doing proud for Japan, and with his latest win over Jo Winifred-Tsonga in a five set match that was one of the biggest surprise upsets so far in the Australian Open. Tsonga, ranked No. 6 in the ATP rankings, was simply outplayed by the Nishikori, the rising Japanese tennis star.
After undergoing surgery for a shoulder injury in 2009, the current world No. 26 spent most of that year recovering and working with physiotherapists and had to work very hard to get back to his tennis, and basically had to start all over again.
Japanese Tennis Player Kei Nishikori Doing Proud for Japan
Alix Ramsay writes:
If you think Roger Federer has broken a few records in his time, wait until you see Kei Nishikori. The quiet man from Shimane has been reinventing Japanese tennis from the moment he picked up a tennis racquet.
Just this week, for instance, he became the first Japanese man in the open era to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. At the US Open in 2008, he became the first Japanese man to reach the fourth round since 1937 and at the Shanghai Rolex Masters last October, he reached the semifinals for the first time in his career and, by doing so, leapt up the rankings to No.30 and became the highest-ranked Japanese male player since tennis went professional. It is not bad for a bloke who has yet to play a full, injury-free season on the ATP tour.
Nishikori is a driven soul. From the moment he started playing at the age of five, he has been keen to learn and happy to work and so he set about climbing the rankings again. By the end of 2010, he had collected four Challenger titles and hauled himself back to No.98 in the world. And that was the springboard from which to launch the most successful season of his career.
“That was one of my main goals in 2011,” he said. “It was good to get through the year by playing consistently to break Shuzo’s record. I talked to him after that and he said, ‘it’s not your final goal’. He told me I can do more and continue doing my best to get a higher ranking. It was a great year for me. I get to high highest ranking. To be No.1 player in Japan, it means a lot to me. ”
“For me it is helping me that I was in US when I was little, playing with all the different players,” he said. “There is a lot of power players, a lot of different type of the players. So I think that helps me to learn how to win against them.”
Shy and unable to talk to his peers, he found it hard to fit into the brasher, American sports environment but, even so, he stuck at it and mopped up whatever information the coaches had to impart like a sponge. Slowly but surely, he came out of his shell until, at the age of 18 he won that first career title and was catapulted to stardom back home in Japan. Suddenly he had a massive fan base and he was mobbed when he set foot on home soil again.
“It is special feeling when I go back to Japan,” Nishikori said. “The people sometimes recognize me when I walk in the street. But it is something special. Usually you don’t get the feeling. I really enjoying how the life is going on.”
“I would like to play mixed doubles if we can get in,” Nishikori said. “That’s the goal for us. But, yeah, played last time in China, 2008. I played horrible match. I felt a lot of pressure in Olympics. It’s only once a four years.
“But I’m excited this year ‘cause my ranking is up now and I’m really confident. I don’t know if I can get the medal, but if I can do well, if I can play my best tennis, then I think I have some chance.
The history of Japanese tennis is there to be rewritten and Nishikori seems just the man to do it. (Original story here)
Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori doing proud for Japan, and his tenacity in tennis is a testament to his resolve. We will see good things from this young man in the near future, and there’s a growing fan base for this growing sensation of new stars to the tennis arena—in which Nishikori’s game has elevated to new levels of competence.