PARIS – Kei Nishikori has told his Japanese compatriots that they should follow in his footsteps and blaze a trail to the United States if they want to reach tennis’ top 20.
The 23-year-old Nishikori is at a career-high 15 in the world, a dizzy climb helped by his stunning defeat of Roger Federer at the Madrid Masters last month.
But he has lived and trained in Florida since he was 14, a move which he believes matured him both as a player and an individual.
“For me, it was much easier that I was in U.S. because I was able to hit with a lot of players — when I was 14 I was able to hit with (former world No. 2) Tommy Haas. He was top 10 at that time,” said Nishikori.
“That makes a lot difference. It was easy to go Europe and a lot of tournaments in U.S. Yeah, there are good facilities in Japan and good coaches, but the toughest thing is you need to play a lot of tournaments in Europe or U.S. because they have more good players.”