Big chance – Kei Nishikori has reached the semifinals of a grand slam tournament for the first time in his career, with his exploits at the 2014 U.S. Open making him the first Japanese player to do so since 1933.
Rising star – Nishikori's career has gone to another level since he started working with Michael Chang, who won the French Open as a 17-year-old in 1989, and he cracked the top 10 for the first time in May 2014.
Tennis talent school – Nishikori is yet another talent to come from Nick Bollettieri's famous Florida academy.
'The shotmaker' – Bollettieri admits he didn't pay much attention to Nishikori until the academy's coaches spoke of his rapid improvement at 16. His nickname quickly became the "shotmaker."
Early inspiration – Nishikori was inspired to play tennis by a visit to the Japan Open -- a tournament he would win in 2012 -- when he was six. His favorite player as a youngster was Morocco's Hicham Arazi.
American ambition – He moved to the U.S. from Japan as a 14-year-old without knowing a word of English.
Big decision – Nishikori's parents opted to send their son to Florida to advance his career after his dominance of the junior championships in Japan. The decision by his father Kiyoshi -- an engineer -- and his piano teacher mother Eri has paid off.
Breakthrough win – Nishikori turned professional in 2007 and won his first ATP Tour event at Delray Beach the following year, beating American James Blake in the final as a 244th-ranked qualifier.
Size matters – Nishikori became the first Japanese player to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for 80 years in January 2012. His defeat to Andy Murray showcased the difference in size between the then 22-year-old and the game's leading players, who are all over six foot.
Injury blow – Having won the 2014 Barcelona Open, Nishikori then reached his first Masters-level final in Madrid, but was forced to retire in the deciding set against Rafael Nadal due to a back injury. He was in control of the match before the injury took its toll.
Grass gains – Nishikori then made his deepest run at Wimbledon, before losing in the fourth round to Canada's Milos Raonic.
New York nights – However, Nishikori earned revenge over the big-serving Raonic as he triumphed at the same stage at the U.S. Open in a marathon match that equaled the latest finish at Flushing Meadows, ending at 2:26 a.m.
Another epic – Nishikori followed that up by defeating Australian Open champion and world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka in another five-set battle to set up a semifinal clash with top-ranked Novak Djokovic.