Tennis

Kei Nishikori: Japan's rising star

Published 1322 GMT (2122 HKT) September 19, 2014
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He's big in Japan.....Kei Nishikori serves during a U.S. Open practice session in September. The Japanese reached his first grand slam final at Flushing Meadow. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images
Nishikori had to negotiate some marathon matches to reach the final, notably his win over Canada's Milos Raonic which lasted four hours and 19 minutes. The match equaled the latest finish at Flushing Meadows, ending at 2:26 a.m. Julian Finney/Getty Images
Nishikori need another four hours to get past Stanilas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. Chris Trotman/Getty Images for USTA
Nishikori recorded a notable win over Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals. Elsa/Getty Images
But the final proved a step too far for Nishikori, losing in straight set to Croatia's Marin Cilic, who is pictured celebrating his victory. Elsa/Getty Images
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 the Japanese star cracked the top 10 for the first time in May 2014. Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Nishikori is yet another talent to come from Nick Bollettieri's famous Florida academy. IMG/Nishikori
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." IMG/Nishikori
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. IMG/Nishikori
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. IMG/Nishikori
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. AFP/Getty Images
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. Getty Images
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. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images/file
Nishikori then made his deepest run at Wimbledon, before losing in the fourth round to Canada's Milos Raonic. ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images