Japanese tennis player Taro Daniel has spoken highly of fellow compatriots Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka as he claims the two have had a lot of positive impact on the Japanese tennis. Nishikori, 30, has been one of the most successful Japanese and Asian athletes over the last decade as he is a 12-time ATP champion and former world No.
4. Nishikori, now ranked at No. 31 in the world, fell just short of winning a maiden Grand Slam title in 2014 as he ended runner-up in the US Open final to Marin Cilic. Meanwhile, 22-year-old Osaka has seen her popularity rise rapidly over the last two years after she claimed back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.
Osaka, now ranked at No. 10 in the world, achieved her career-high ranking of No. 1 in the world after winning it all at Melbourne Park a year and a half ago. "Kei has been the most famous athlete in Japan for a long time,” Daniel told the ITF.
“Thanks to him the tennis clubs are full of children, and the number of junior players has increased. As for Osaka, she has had a big impact, inspiring today’s children and children of the future. It is great that my country can have two great players, both male and female, like Kei and Naomi”.
Taro Daniel enjoyed his Olympic and Davis Cup experience
In 2016, Daniel was called up to represent Japan at the Rio Olympics and he gladly accepted the invitation. The Japanese was more than inspired in Rio de Janeiro as he surprised Jack Sock and Kyle Edmund before he was beaten in three sets by eventual runner-up Juan Martin del Potro.
"It was a great experience,” Daniel said of Olympic debut. “It was so much fun. I met so many athletes. Japan had one of the most popular pins in the Olympic Village, with Pikachu – everyone wanted to exchange it!” In 2014, Daniel made his Davis Cup debut against the Czech Republic when he received a surprise call from the Japanese Davis Cup Team Captain.
"The captain called me last-minute,” Daniel said. “It was the first time Japan had reached the World Group quarter-finals. It came as a surprise, but I decided to represent Japan." "Japan is the country where I started playing tennis.
I know more people there than in the US. I had more chances to represent Japan in Davis Cup, and they helped me more financially. I feel more Japanese”. Taro Daniel also revealed that his parents were huge tennis fans and it led to him picking up a racket.