Kei Nishikori has been on the main stage of the tennis world since 2014 and grew out to become one of the best tennis players in Japan’s history while spending many months in the top 5, but in all this successful adventure, Kei has identified some unforgettable moments, among which is also his victory against Rafael Nadal at the Rio Olympics.
In 2014, Nishikori beat big names like Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic on his way to the US Open final, where he was outperformed by his much taller rival, Marin Cilic. However, none of those matches deserved the title of “the most memorable match”, as the Japanese clarified in a recent Uniqlo interview.
“The third-place playoff with Nadal. Of course, the medal was on the line. And that match being against Nadal made it very memorable”. Nishikori said. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Kei won the bronze medal after he defeated Rafael Nadal with 6–2, 6–7 (1), 6–3.
With that achievement, Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic tennis medal since Ichiya Kumagae in the 1920 Olympics. Besides denying Rafael Nadal a medal at the 2016 Olympics, making the transition from Japan to the United States in 2004 and winning the 2006 Junior French Open doubles title were other marking moments that helped him define as the complete player he is now.
“The first time I went to the US when I was 13 was a big step for me. And winning a big tournament at 17 was also a turning point”. Nishikori said.