Kei Nishikori is a Japanese tennis player who is well-known for his brilliant shot-making from the baseline.
Nishikori is a path-breaker for his country in many ways, as he is the first male Japanese player to break into the top 40 of the ATP rankings and also the first to reach a Grand Slam final. His entertaining brand of tennis has made him a national icon in Japan, and also a fan favorite in other parts of the world.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: Quarterfinalist (2012, 2015, 2016)
French Open: Quarterfinalist (2015, 2017)
Wimbledon: Quarterfinalist (2018)
US Open: Runner-up (2014)
Highest Ranking: No. 4
Style of play
Nishikori takes the ball earlier than perhaps anyone other than Roger Federer. He is an attack-minded player who is equally comfortable off either wing and likes to hit flat drives that take time away from his opponents.
Nishikori imparts a fair amount of topspin on his forehand, but his backhand is much flatter. He also takes the return of serve very early, relying on his quickness and anticipation to get the ball back in play.
Nishikori doesn't approach the net too frequently, but is a capable volleyer.
Strengths and weaknesses
Nishikori's ability to hit on the rise and take time away from his opponents is widely considered to be his biggest strength. Despite being much shorter than many players in the top 20, Nishikori is able to generate tremendous pace off his groundstrokes that catch his opponents off-guard.
The Japanese has a consistently powerful forehand, but it is his backhand that is deemed to be his main weapon. His ability to hit the shot with a short backswing makes it highly unpredictable; many times it is difficult to guess whether he is going to go crosscourt with it or down the line.
Nishikori's return of serve is easily one of the best in the world. He can defuse the biggest serves of the tallest of players, and breaks all of his opponents frequently.
He is very quick around the court, using his footwork to both attack and defend with equal composure. He is also good with touch shots, using the backhand slice, drop shot and lob to good effect.
Nishikori's serve is his biggest liability, as he is unable to generate sufficient pace off it. He is also prone to making a few too many unforced errors, which often end up costing him.
Nishikori was born in Shimane, Japan, and his parents had starkly different careers. His father Kiyoshi is an engineer and mother Eri a piano teacher, but that didn't stop them from encouraging their son to focus on tennis.
Nishikori moved to Florida at the age of 14, to join Nick Bollettieri's academy. He rose up the ranks rapidly after that, and in 2008 Rafael Nadal predicted that the then 19-year-old would one day break into the top 5.
That prophecy came true, and today Nishikori is one of the best players in the world. He has been coached by Michael Chang since 2014, and regularly challenges for all the big titles - especially those on hardcourt, his favorite surface.
Nishikori's fitness has been something of a question mark over the years, as he's been known to break down with injury a little too frequently. But he keeps bouncing back from each setback with admirable perseverance, making him a great role model for youngsters everywhere - and particularly in Asia.
Social media presence:
Kei Nishikori Instagram: @keinishikori
Kei Nishikori Twitter: @keinishikori