Tennis Prose



Nishioka Is On Fire

By Scoop Malinowski

Yoshihito Nishioka is quietly rising up the ATP ranks with stunning play and results. The Japanese wizard southpaw is currently ranked a career high 36 in the world and fueling his momentum for a big 2023 with two excellent wins so far this week in Adelaide, beating world no. 11 Holger Rune 26 64 64 and Mackie McDonald in the round of 16 64 63.

Nishioka, who turned pro in 2014, is now 27 years old and the veteran still has a losing overall ATP record of 96-110.

Nishioka lost first round in five straight tournaments last year from Madrid to Wimbledon and then his ranking fell to 101 but then he suddenly caught fire by making semis and quarters at Challengers in Porto and Rome, GA. Then in Washington DC at Citi Open, Nishioka beat Brooksby, de Minaur, Khachanov, Evans and Rublev to reach the final, a 64 63 loss to Nick Kyrgios.

In September after US Open – a first round loss to Fokina – Nishioka then won Seoul by beating Shapovalov in the final and world no. 2 Ruud in the QF. Nishioka has a 10-4 match record after the US Open last summer and now he’s 2-0 so far this year.

The 5-7, 145 pounder, coached by his older brother Yasuo, is an impossible-to-predict dynamo of a player. Somehow the little marvel, who cites Marcelo Rios as one of his great tennis inspirations, is able to successfully handle most of the heavyweights of the ATP World Tour with his uncanny, cat-like movement, perfect technical mechanics and timing and shot placement, variety. Aesthetically, with Lopez and Federer now finished, Nishioka, to me, is the most aesthetically pleasing and impressive player in the ATP to watch.

One of the most memorable displays of tennis I ever saw, which I still can’t forget was seeing Nishioka playing practice tiebreakers one later afternoon at Delray Beach about five years ago with Peter Polansky. It was jaw-dropping magical tennis on an outer practice court, played at full intensity and fury, as if $5m was at stake.

As Nishioka continues to win and rise up the rankings to his ultimate unknown destination, by playing his astounding brand of unique tennis, I highly recommend you take a look at this mighty mini magician who I predict is going to shock the world and reach the top 10 this year or next.

Here is my Biofile with Yoshihito Nishioka

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