Kei Nishikori has been one of the leading exponents of Asian tennis in recent years. The 31-year-old Japanese has put together a remarkable career so far, having achieved several accolades and becoming a true star in his country.
The Japanese player has had to deal with several physical problems lately, as well as having undergone elbow surgery at the end of 2019. His level has never returned to what we were used to, so much so that Nishikori currently occupies the 41st position in the standings (far from his best ranking of number 4 ATP).
The finalist of the US Open 2014 has not yet managed to conquer either a Major or a Masters 1000, despite having reached at least the quarter-finals in all 4 Grand Slam events. Having happened in the same era as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic certainly did not help him, but Kei expressed no regrets merely trying to improve his tennis.
During an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Nishikori praised the greatness of the Big 3.
Nishikori praises Roger Federer
"One has to really respect what Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have done over the last 15 years.
To win one Grand Slam is tough. To win a tournament 8, 9, 10 times is incredible. Truly incredible" - Kei Nishikori stated. You have said in the past that Roger Federer is your idol. And last week, Federer came back to the tour after a one-year layoff.
Do you feel inspired and motivated by the Swiss to play into your late 30s as well? "Yes, it's incredible to see Roger Federer back, and playing well right away. He is amazing for the sport and it is great to see him still playing.
He is an inspiration for all of the players on the tour." Your countrywoman Naomi Osaka has become a big star, with her Slam success as well as her social activism. How has her success, along with your success over the past few years, impacted the growth of tennis in Japan? "Yeah, what Naomi Osaka is doing is incredible, both on the court and off.
She is winning Grand Slams and inspiring so many young people to play tennis. This is great for Japanese fans and young players." Federer runs a charity that supports unprivileged children in Africa. Citing his exhibition tie with old foe Rafael Nadal in South Africa, Federer said that it was the most attended match in tennis history with a turnout of 52,000 and helped him raise over $3.5 million for his foundation.
Possibly hinting at full-time focus on his philanthropic pursuits post retirement, the champion said that he would want his foundation to “follow” him for the rest of his life.