On the eve of the tournament in Kuala Lumpur, one of the protagonists of the season finale last year, Kei Nishikori, shared his thoughts. The Japanese tennis player, entered law in the history of his country in this sport, last year broke into the top 20 in the world thanks to the semifinals of the Shanghai Masters 1000 and the final in Basel, then confirming his progress with the quarterfinals of the Australian Open last January. However, as it has already happened in 2008 (the year in which he delighted fans after he qualified by winning his first and so far only career title in Delray Beach, winning the award of
"Newcomer of the Year"), there are still physical problems to temporarily stop running the athlete of the Rising Sun (he was forced to stop in the period between Barcelona and Wimbledon). The little samurai therefore speaks of his origins, his idol and his goals."
Nishikori spoke about the way he arrived on the court:
"My parents begun to play for fun. My father bought some shoes for kids from Hawaii, so, five years later, I started to rally with my older sister in a park, although there was no court. I won the first national tournament at the age of 11 or 12 years, and only then I realized I wanted to be professional. So, at the age of 14, I moved to Florida. I've been lucky, because a boy of Japanese Federation has helped me to get into the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. The contract was initially for three years, but I enjoyed it and I continue."
When asked who his role model is, Kei has no doubts:
"My idol has always been Roger Federer. According to me he is the strongest of all time. In Basel, in the final of last year, I felt had no chance against him .
But it was nice to know the level of a player of his caliber. To beat top players constantly you need to be more aggressive, come to the net and use my forehand. My goals? To consolidate my position in the top 20 and then, who knows, maybe even the top 10. I want to be the tennis player with the highest ranking ever held in Japan, it does not involve too much pressure. I live in the U.S. so I have no way of dealing with the national average."
Finally, as a final curiosity, Nishikori admits to being sympathetic to Manchester United also due to the militancy of his compatriot Shinji Kagawa.
Tennis World Magazine - issue 31
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