Tennis Prose



Miami Open: Nishioka Dazzles Again

IMG_20180322_162936Yoshihito Nishioka suffered a serious knee injury here last year while leading Jack Sock 4-1.

A surgery and year later, the Japanese lefty returned to Miami with a protected ranking to take on fast-rising Australian Alex deMinaur.

The two smallish baseline grinders slugged it out early but Nishioka’s variety and superior arsenal were too much for the teen.

Nishioka was able to mix up his shots more and strike pinpoint winners from defensive positions to cause deMinaur to look at Lleyton Hewitt in his box with a How the heck did he do that? Expression of awe.

The Demon battled hard as always. Down a set and 2-1 he broke Nishioka for 4-2. But then Nishioka changed gears and thrilled the sparse crowd on court one. Two delicate forehand drop volleys off wicked passes provoked Hewitt to say “too good” twice to his frustrated charge who did nothing wrong. He simply had the misfortune of having to face a special player on a very inspired day.

Nishioka still has his magic shots but he also plays now with a different intensity, a greater passion and fire. Many times in the match Nishioka shouted cmon and Let’s go and showed fist pumps. The old pre injury version of Nishioka had a much more subdued demeanor.

Next up for Nishioka is Berdych who he shocked last year in Indian Wells from a 1615 hole. Nishioka said he knows Berdych will be extra eager to avenge that nightmare loss however he feels confident in his shotmaking and “defense” that he can tag another L on Berdych’s record.

Nishioka was much in demand by media after the win today. Nine Japanese print journalists then one TV interview then 15 more minutes with ATP TV then finally myself and another American had the chance to ask a few questions.

I also gave Nishioka my Rios book because last year he told me the Chilean was a favorite of his.



  • catherine · March 23, 2018 at 3:37 am

    Japanese (ish) theme – big WTA one today, Osaka/Svitolina. Elina won’t want to join the Osaka bandwagon.

    Carina Withoeft won battle of Germans – bt Georges in 3, match with some odd statistics – total games won for both 50%. Service games won both 69%. Julia served 9 aces and 6 df, Carina 9 dfs.

    Caroline Garcia is in free fall. New coach needed maybe. Or could have peaked.

    What is the problem with Madison – retired again ?

  • Hartt · March 23, 2018 at 8:09 am

    It’s great to have Nishioka back – he is a lot of fun to watch.

  • Dan Markowitz · March 23, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Keys looked kind of disinterested. But her pull out seemed weird. She’d just lost the first in a breaker and didn’t look like she was injured or moving poorly.

    Interesting that Azarenka, I don’t know how old her boy is, looks fitter and skinnier than she did prior to giving birth. She also almost looks too skinny.

    How did Kyrgios old flame, Tomjanlovic or something like that, get a wc into Miami? Apparently, she’s an IMG player and IMG owns the tournament, still it’s fishy. She’s an alright player, but she’s not American and didn’t even qualify at IW.

    I like Kicker who lost to Tiafoe last night. Small guy but snaps the one hander.

  • jg · March 23, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Looked like keys just didn’t think she could win, especially after losing in her first match at IW, she just doesn’t think she can win. On the other hand, Tiafoes all around game looked impressive, even the serve out wide and volley, I don’t think he missed a volley. I agree Kicker must be very good on clay.

  • scoopmalinowski · March 23, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Nishioka quotes:

    I had great memory before injury. I had great feeling in Indian Wells, Acapulco. Little bit of time after injury just think about what I can do for tennis in Japan and when I was injured I worked for juniors in Japan. I try to do many things in Japan. I open up a clinic in Japan. It was good for me as well.

    Today I play good. I still feel not like 100% but tennis is feeling very good. Today I play very good against him. He’s a great player. Still he’s young but he had great success for Australian season. So it was tough match for me.

    Berdych (next) lost against me in IW. And so he knows about me right now. And Im sure he doesnt want to lose. So hes gonna be tough for sure but if I can do more long rallies against him, if I can do very defensive, move him, I think I have a chance. Just focus on get the ball back.

  • catherine · March 23, 2018 at 9:59 am

    jg -I agree, I think Madison’s reached that point where she doesn’t believe she can win whatever she does and whoever she plays so every niggle becomes an injury and she retires. Don’t know what her coaching team set up is now – but she’s got to move beyond just whacking the ball. Can she ?

  • catherine · March 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Svitolina ends Osaka’s dream SS – I watched live and Elina won through experience and consistancy. Stands almost empty mid-morning so there wasn’t much of an atmosphere.

  • Hartt · March 23, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    My sports channel had Goffin vs. Sousa, and there wasn’t much of a crowd there either. Not only is it early, but there are matches on 9 courts, so crowd likely is spread out.

    Milos vs Mikael Ymer is about to start on Court 1, a relatively small court. A decent number of fans, probably quite a few Canadian snowbirds. The fans have a great view – not far from the court.

  • Hartt · March 23, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Great quotes from Nishioka. Very impressive that he helped juniors in Japan when he was out with the injury.

  • Chazz · March 23, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I hope Goffin was injured because that was a shocking score, 0 & 1 to Sousa.

  • catherine · March 23, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Serena fined for not turning up to her pc. I don’t blame her one bit. Won’t make much of a dent in her piggybank.

    I don’t see why these pointless events have to be contractual obligations.

    If players want to come, fine, but if they don’t then I think that should be their choice.

  • Hartt · March 23, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Milos played well overall against the youngster, Mikael Ymer, and won in SS. He served well, but the stat I was especially happy with was Milos winning 15/19 points at the net.

  • catherine · March 23, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Hartt – Looks like Milos is fit again. Will he play all the clay court events do you think ?

  • scoopmalinowski · March 23, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Milos gave Bjorkman and Goran one week trials and opted to commit to Goran. In case you didnt know.

  • Hartt · March 23, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Scoop, had not heard he had made a definite decision, because earlier he said he would decide after Miami. but choosing Goran certainly makes sense.

  • Hartt · March 23, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Catherine, yes I would expect Milos to play all the clay Masters tourneys. He actually has a decent record on clay – that was something Ljubicic and Piatti accomplished – they convinced Milos he could play on clay. And he still needs match play.

  • Hartt · March 23, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    This has been a good couple of days for the Canadian men, with Denis winning yesterday, Milos earlier today, and now Pospisil with a SS win over Rublev. Vasek took medication before the match even started, and had a slow start, but played better as the match went on. His serve was key today. So I am a happy camper! 🙂



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