Tennis Prose




Jan/23

20

Pound For Pound The Best Player On The Planet Is Nishioka

In boxing, the experts like to talk about who is the pound for pound best fighter in the world. It’s a debate to celebrate and honor who is the best all around skilled talent and not necessarily the biggest and strongest heavyweight champion.

In tennis I nominate the best pound for pound, inch for inch player to be Yoshihito Nishioka. The five-foot-seven left-handed marvel is in the best form of his life right now. Ranked at a career high 33, the surging Japanese juggernaut made routine work of the slayer of Nadal Mackenzie McDonald yesterday 76 64 63 to advance to the round of 16.

27 year old Nishioka, winner of two career ATP singles titles, will meet Karen Khachanov and on paper it would seem the heavyweight Russian would overpower and annihilate an overmatched victim.

But Nishioka beat Khachanov the last time they played 76 76 last year in Washington. Khachanov had previously beaten Nishioka twice – 2019 at AO 63 63 63 and then again at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics 36 61 62.

While Diego Schwartzman is heralded as the best little big man in the ATP, I see Nishioka as a better and more diverse player, more fluid in movement and strokes, quicker footed and the extra dimension of flair. Take nothing away from the ultimate grinder Schwartzman but Nishioka is a more exciting and dynamic player to watch. I have studied this unique player for years, watching him complete live and in practice in Miami, US Open, Citi Open, Newport, Sarasota Challenger and he is one of my favorite all time players to see.

This may be the tournament where Nishioka finally shocks the world and establishes himself as more than just being a journeyman player who can’t take the step from the second tier to the elite pantheon of the ATP.

Nishioka may actually be the all around most talented wizard in pro tennis.

Here is my Nishioka Biofile interview

Sebi Korda upset Daniil Medvedev in three sets.

Khachanov bested Tiafoe in four sets.

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