Kei Nishikori on Tuesday heaped praise on his “amazing” countryman Hideki Matsuyama for reaching No. 2 in the PGA Tour rankings, the best ever position for a Japanese male golfer.
But while he offered major praise, Nishikori hinted that he feels Matsuyama is not getting the recognition he deserves at home, saying many world-class athletes receive more love outside of their homeland.
“All I have to say is that he’s amazing,” Nishikori said of Matsuyama, who moved to his career-best ranking after finishing tied for second at the U.S. Open on Sunday in Erin, Wisconsin.
“I’d like to see the (Japanese) media report more on how great he is,” he added.
Nishikori, who recently ranked 20th on ESPN’s list of top 100 most famous active athletes, said after his first-round victory at the Gerry Weber Open in Germany that he sees a difference in the quantity of coverage golf and tennis receive in Japan compared to elsewhere.
“Neither tennis nor golf is considered among the top two sports in Japan,” the 27-year-old Nishikori said.
“I hope they become more (culturally) accepted,” he said, mentioning that he wants tennis and golf to get more coverage in Japan, to the same level as baseball and sumo.
Meanwhile in Arkansas, retiring former world No. 1 golfer Ai Miyazato also spoke of her excitement about Matsuyama tying the best showing by a Japanese man at a golf major, matching Isao Aoki, who tied Jack Nicklaus for second at the 1980 U.S. Open.
Speaking at the Pinnacle Country Club two days before the start of the NW Arkansas Championship, Miyazato extended congratulations to the fifth-year pro while advising him to stay focused on riding this wave of success.
“That was amazing,” Miyazato said. “He’ll win (a major championship) any day now. I hope he continues to pile up wins, but not get too caught up with winning just the majors.”
It is the first time in nearly two months that Miyazato is competing on the U.S. LPGA tour, and the first time she’s played in North America since she set a season’s end date for her retirement.
In her 20-minute news conference, Miyazato said again that it was lack of motivation that triggered her retirement decision.
When asked why she needed four years to pick up her first win on the U.S. tour, Miyazato, reflecting on her adjustment period, said it took her longer than expected to overcome the language, travel and the time difference barriers.
“My 12 years in the U.S. are great memories. I played to the best of my ability. I hope to enjoy the remainder of the season,” she said.
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