Kei Nishikori

From Nick Bollettieri‘s book, Changing the game:

I have seen thousands of tennis players over the past 60 years and can identify only three who have had the gift of magic hands. I’ve already mentioned two – Xavier Malisse and Marcelo Rios. The third is Kei Nishikori.
I met and started to work with Kei because in the 1980s Arthur Ashe and I traveled to Japan to conduct a clinic for 500 youngsters. While there we toured many of the local tennis facilities. On the day of the clinic the skies opened with torrential rains, forcing us to move indoors. Arthur was panicked – how to deal with so many children at close quarters – but this wasn’t a challenge for me. We found a huge gymnasium and held two clinics, each for one hour with 250 participants. We had two lines running at the same time and each kid got to hit two balls. They all thanked us profusely.

I learned a few things that day about Japanese children. They were very polite, quiet and patient; but they watched our every movement and took in every word I spoke. They were so eager to learn, you could see their excitement as their eyes darted from me to Arthur to the interpreter and back again.

During our visit I was introduced to a kindly gentleman, Mr Morita, whose family was the largest shareholder in the Sony Corporation. He loved tennis and wanted very much for Japan to develop a steady stream of world-class players; His passion for the sport and confidence in me led to a fruitful relationship that continues to this day. At the time, Japan’s most successful male player, Shuzo Matsuoka, was in a class by himself. His highest ranking ever was No.46 in the world, but both Mr Morita and I believed that with focus, determination and funding, more could be achieved.

So Mr Morita dispatched Sato Nakajima to work at IMG academy and act as a liaison for Japanese players. He also began to send youngsters there, all sponsored by Sony. One of those players was 14-year-old Kei Nishikori. Kei, who didn’t speak one word of english at the time and had never eaten american food, housed in an apartment with seven other boys; not surprisingly, he was scared and took some time to feel comfortable. Not on the tennis court, though. I didn’t take me very long to realize that he had talent. He was extremely quick and had those magic hands of a gifted shot maker. Like Agassi and Rios, he possessed innate skills that can’t be taught, but need only to be channeled.

Mr Morita continued to support him. Today, Kei is not only the highest ranked player from Japan on the ATP tour but one of the most celebrated sports stars in Japanese history.
His able team includes IMG agent Olivier van Lindonk, who sees to his schedule and business affairs, and his personal coach, Dante Bottini, who is quiet and unassuming but understands Kei. They relate well to each other. I continue to participate in the role of team advisor.

I was especially pleased to see Michael Chang coming to town to join Kei’s coaching team. THe last time Michael was at the academy was in 1985 when he was 13 years old and training with his coach. Michael was a champion because of his movement, his recovery and his ability to avoid hitting defensive shots, not to mention an indomitable will. On the way to the 1989 French Open singles title, he had an epic match againt Ivan Lendl, overcoming leg cramps, fatigue and dehydration in a remarkable five-set victory.

Michael Chang

I watched Michael working with Kei and quickly identified what his plans were. He realized that magic hands were not enough but would make a big difference in combination with the right leg work. He showed Kei exactly how to load from the ground up which, in turn, got his racquet below the ball. This allowed Kei to aplly more height, depth and spin, especially when he was out of position and behind the baseline. In the past, Kei’s shots would land on the service line and get him in trouble. I applauded Kei’s decision to add Michael Chang to his coaching team, alongside his regular coach.

Can Kei really compete with the best in the world? I know he can! But, he must learn to truly believe in himself – exactly what Michael Chang yelled to him in his first round, five-set match at the 2014 Australian Open – and to know with every fiber of his being that he deserves to be on the court with the big boys. And he must deliver that as a potent message when he competes against top 10 players? I believe he will do it! Mr Morita and I will continue to cheer for Kei.

Photos by Tennis Buzz

Radek Stepanek

Two time defending champions eased into the Davis Cup semifinals with a 5-0 victory over Japan. Both teams played without their number ones, Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori.

Czech Republic will next face France who came back from a 2-0 deficit to top Germany 3-2.

Radek Stepanek vs Tatsuma Ito

Davis Cup 2014 Japan vs Czech 1st Day | Tatsuma Ito vs Radek Stepanek

Davis Cup 2014 Japan vs Czech 1st Day | Tatsuma Ito vs Radek Stepanek

Davis Cup 2014 Japan vs Czech 1st Day | Tatsuma Ito vs Radek Stepanek

Davis Cup 2014 Japan vs Czech 1st Day | Tatsuma Ito vs Radek Stepanek
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Czech Republic defeats Netherlands: 3-1

Robin Haase def Radek Stepanek 3-6 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-1
Tomas Berdych def Igor Sijsling 6-3 6-3 6-0
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek def Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5 1-6 7-6 7-6
Tomas Berdych def Thiemo De Bakker 6-1 6-4 6-3

The Czechs have not lost since suffering a huge upset against Kazakhstan in the first round in 2011. The last time the Dutch won a World Group tie was in 2005 against Switzerland. That’s quite a long time ago…

Japan defeats Canada: 3-1

Kei Nishikori def Peter Polansky 6-4 6-4 6-4
Franck Dancevic def Go Soeda 6-4 7-6 6-1
Kei Nishikori/Yasutaka Uchiyama def Franck Dancevic/Daniel Nestor 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-4
Kei Nishikori def Franck Dancevic 6-2 1-0 ret

Lead by 18th ranked Kei Nishikori, Japan sailed into the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 3-1 victory against an injury-plagued Canada: Milos Raonic pulled out with a left-foot injury on Thursday while Frank Dancevic retired with a stomach injury in the fourth rubber.

Germany defeats Spain: 3-0

Philipp Kohlschreiber def Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-4 6-2
Florian Mayer def Feliciano Lopez 7-6 7-6 1-6 5-7 6-3
Tommy Haas/Philipp Kohlschreiber def Fernando Verdasco/David Marrero 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-3

Five-time champion Spain will face a World Group playoff in September for the second year in a row. Playing without Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo, Spain was ousted by Germany 3-0.

France defeats Australia: 3-0

Richard Gasquet def Nick Kyrgios 7-6 6-2 6-2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 6-2 7-6
Richard Gasquet/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def Chris Guccione/Lleyton Hewitt 5-7 7-6 7-5 6-2

Arnaud Clément relied on his two top players Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to get past Australia, lead by Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt and Guccione were previously undefeated in the Davis Cup as a doubles team, but they were overpowered by the French pair.

Great Britain defeat USA: 3-1

Andy Murray def Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-3
James Ward def Sam Querrey 1-6 7-6 3-6 6-4 6-1
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan def Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot 6-2 6-3 3-6 6-1
Andy Murray def Sam Querrey 7-6 6-7 6-1 6-3

Great Britain are into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup for the first time since 1986. It is also the first time Britain have beaten the USA since 1935! The hero of the tie is James Ward, ranked 175, who beat former top 20 Sam Querrey on Friday.

Italy defeats Argentina:

Carlos Berlocq def Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-0 6-2 6-1
Fabio Fognini def Juan Monaco 7-5 6-2 6-2
Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini def Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos 6-7 7-6 7-6 6-4
Fabio Fognini def Carlos Berlocq 7-6 4-6 6-1 6-4

With his third victory of the weekend, Fabio Fognini sent Italy through to its second quarterfinal since 1998. It is Argentina’s first opening round defeat in 13 years.

Kazakhstan defeats Belgium: 3-2

Mikhail Kukushkin def Ruben Bemelmans 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-3
Andrey Golubev def David Goffin 7-6 3-6 4-6 6-2 12-10
Ruben Bemelmans/Olivier Rochus def Evgeny Korolev/Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2 6-7 6-3 7-6
David Goffin def Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0
Andrey Golubev def Ruben Bemelmans 6-2 6-3 6-1

Switzerland defeats Serbia: 3-0

Roger Federer def Ilija Bozoljac 6-4 7-5 6-2
Stanislas Wawrinka def Dusan Lajovic 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-6
Marco Chiudinelli/Michael Lammer def Filip Krajinovic/Nenad Zimonjic 7-6 3-6 7-6 6-2

Roger Federer made last-minute decision to play the Davis Cup tie in Serbia and he joined forces with recent Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and doubles pair Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer to oust Djokovic-less Serbia 3-0.
The Davis Cup has never been a top priority for him and it remains a true hole in Federer’s impressive curriculum vitae.

The quarterfinals:

Japan – Czech Republic
France – Germany
Italy – Great Britain
Switzerland – Kazakhstan

Which team will win the Davis Cup this year?

  • Switzerland (67%, 31 Votes)
  • France (20%, 9 Votes)
  • Czech Republic (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Great Britain (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Italy (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Germany (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Japan (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Kazakhstan (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 46

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This month, the IOC Evaluation Commission is visting the three candidates cities. The election of the winning city will take place on 7 September at 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires.

Tokyo

Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics. Tokyo’s 2020 bid is the city’s fifth bid for the games.
Japan has also hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972 in Sapporo and 1998 in Nagano.

Competition will be staged in three types of venues:

– Historic venues dating from the 1964 Games, modernised and refurbished to extend their legacy for at least another 50 years. The centrepiece of the 1964 legacy venues will be the new Olympic Stadium – the first in Games history to have a retractable roof. It will blend the history and tradition of the site, with Tokyo’s renowned innovation and technology to create a new domestic and international sporting icon, which will stage the Tokyo 2020 Opening and Closing Ceremony and other similarly high-profile sport events for decades to come. Among the other 1964 venues that will also benefit from modernisation is Yoyogi National Stadium, which will host Handball.

– New permanent venues that will herald a new legacy, bringing much-needed new facilities to city centre living.

– Temporary venues, located in spectacular oceanside settings overlooking Tokyo Bay.

The tennis event will be played at the Ariake Tennis Park. The existing Ariake Coliseum, a multipurpose 10,000 seat stadium with an all-weather court and a sliding retractable roof, regularly hosts international and major domestic events.

Tokyo 2020 website
Tokyo 2020 candidature file
More on Ariake Tennis Park

Madrid

Madrid‘s 2020 bid is their third consecutive bid for the games and fourth overall bid.
Spain previously hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics at Barcelona.

The venues will be divided into two zones:

– the Campo de las Naciones Zone, located in the east of the city, which will house 14 Olympic venues, the Olympic and Paralympic Village, the Media Village, the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC) and the Main Press Centre.

– the Manzanares Zone, in the west, has 7 Olympic venues and is located in an area of environmental regeneration, where the river which crosses Madrid has been restored for use as an extensive parkland area for recreation and sport.

The tennis event will take place at the Caja Magica, used for the Madrid Masters and which also hosted the 2013 World Men’s Handball Championship.

Caja Magica Madrid

Madrid 2020 website
Madrid 2020 candidature file

Istanbul

Istanbul’s 2020 bid is their fifth bid. If the city wins the bid, Turkey would be the 24th nation to host the Olympic Games.

The Istanbul 2020 Games Master Plan features four zones:

– the Olympic City Zone is located in the city’s populous and important western growth region, with significant existing and planned transport infrastructure. The Olympic City Cluster comprises the İstanbul Olympic ParkPrecinct with 11 venues including the existing Atatürk Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Tennis Centre.

– the Coastal Zone, home to the historic sites along the Marmara Sea shoreline, is currently the site of significant regeneration and restoration programmes.

– the Bosphorus Zone, located in the heart of the old city, provides the stage for hosting events concurrently on the European and Asian sides of the city, activating the majestic waterway for competition and public events.

– the Forest Zone, Situated in the north of the city. This cluster comprises the Belgrad Forest Precinct (three venues – Belgrad Forest Cycle Park, Olympic Whitewater Stadium and the National Shooting Centre), as well as the Seyrantepe Stadium.

The tennis event will be played at the yet to be built Olympic Tennis Centre.

Istanbul 2020 website
Istanbul 2020 candidature file

Schedule

March 4–7 – IOC Evaluation Commission visit to Tokyo
March 18–21 – IOC Evaluation Commission visit to Madrid
March 24–27 – IOC Evaluation Commission visit to Istanbul
July 3–4 – Candidate cities briefing to IOC Members in Lausanne
TBD – Report of the IOC evaluation commission
7 September – Election of the host city at 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires

According to the bookmakers Tokyo is the favorite, who do you think will win?

Which city will host the 2020 Olympics?

  • Istanbul (59%, 22 Votes)
  • Tokyo (32%, 12 Votes)
  • Madrid (8%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 37

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