Kei Nishikori upset Milos Raonic to win the Japan Open on Sunday, much to the delight of an adoring nation who may now expect even bigger and better things. Here’s five things you may or may not know about Kei.
He is Japan’s best ever male player
While Kimiko Date reached the heady heights of world No 4 back in 1995 and is still playing now, at the age of 42, there is no contest when it comes to judging who Japan’s best ever male player is. Though the likes of Shuzo Matsuoka were decent performers, Nishikori is the first Japanese man to win the Japan Open and at No 17, is by far the highest-ranked player ever from his country. On this evidence, and if he stays fit, the top 10 could be well within his reach.
Early sacrifice was worth it
Kei left Japan at the age of 13 in search of glory and landed up at the Nick Bollettieri academy in Florida. Nick took him under his wing right from the start and though he did not speak a word of English when he arrived, he soon fit in and ended up rooming with Zach Gilbert, son of former top-10 player turned commentator, Brad Gilbert, who later became his coach.
From a jubilation to a blessing
Like many words in Japanese, “Kei” can mean many different things. Wikipedia (I know, but bear with me) says it can mean: “Square jewel”, ”blessing”, ”wise”, ”jubilation”, ”respect”, ”excellent”, ”Japanese Judas-tree” and ”disclose”, most of which are good.
He doesn’t like beer, but has a year’s free supply
Unlike Andrea Hlavackova, whose family’s heritage in the beer industry is so strong that she has advised all tennis players to drink more of the stuff, Nishikori doesn’t like the taste. Which is a bit of a problem seeing as his reward for winning the Japan Open, as well as his cheque and ranking points, was a year’s free supply of Corona. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with a year’s worth of Corona beer,” he said on Sunday. His friends might be able to help him out.
He is not particularly good at karaoke
Of course, there’s absolutely no reason he should be – other than the fact that he is Japanese and that everyone who’s never been to Japan thinks that everyone there spends their evenings in karaoke bars. He’s not quite as bad as Andy Murray (see his guest spot on the Bryan brothers’ “Autograph”) but on this evidence, he shouldn’t give up the day job just yet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a1X5PVV1cI