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Aug 27, 2008

Kei Nishikori at the US Open: The Interview

Kei Nishikori, 18, who is ranked 126th, had won his first match in a Grand Slam tournament beating no 29th seed Juan Monaco 6-2, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

Despite suffered a cramp in his legs in the fourth set, he's still able to get past Monaco.

In the last appearance in a Grand Slam, at Wimbledon, he was forced to retire after a stomach muscle injury.

Here's the interview with Kei after the first round match:

Q. I think there was a point at the beginning of the third set that there was a little dispute about, and you basically told your opponent that the ball was in and not out. Could you talk about that?

KEI NISHIKORI: Umm, I didn't know what happened just couple few seconds. I thought it was in, but I didn't see the ball, and so...

Yeah, I thought that was like crazy, stupid, so... I just called in.

Q. Can you just talk about the reason you called the trainer specifically?

KEI NISHIKORI: I just cramped. I couldn't moved. Just long points.

Q. How big a win was this in your mind?

KEI NISHIKORI: Sorry?

Q. How big a win was this in your mind?

KEI NISHIKORI: Oh, it was great win, I think because he's a good player, and seeded. And, yeah, I didn't think I was going to win, so I'm happy of it.

Q. You had some friends or your coach maybe at the south end, kind of the south baseline in the stands. You turned around at one point you were talking to them I think right after the second set. Was that your coach or friends?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, my coach and my parents are there, yeah.

Q. How long have you been living at Bollettieri's?

KEI NISHIKORI: Almost five years now.

Q. Almost five years?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah.

Q. Are you liking it?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, I love it. So many good players practicing there. Good coaches, and, yeah, I like it.

Q. And do you miss Japan at all?

KEI NISHIKORI: I do. But I've got to train there, so I can't go back.

Q. Can you talk about the Olympic experience at all?

KEI NISHIKORI: I wasn't playing great, but it was great. It's real different than like this kind of tournament. It's only once every four years, and I came back from 6‑3, 5‑0, something. So, yeah, there was good experience.

Q. Was that a first round match at the Olympics?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah.

Q. How often do you go back home?

KEI NISHIKORI: Only once or twice a year.

Q. And do you communicate? Are your parents here, or are they...

KEI NISHIKORI: No, they live in Japan, but they come ‑‑ they came Wimbledon and here, too.

Q. And how do you communicate normally? Telephone or text message or computer?

KEI NISHIKORI: E‑mail mostly, but sometimes telephone, yeah. But not so much.

Q. Have you made many friends at the academy?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah.

Q. Who are some of your buddies there?

KEI NISHIKORI: Jesse Levine. He's playing this tournament, too. And all the pros, Tommy Haas and Stepanek.

Q. Do you think it would be possible for you to develop your game if you weren't in that environment? Do you need to be there, or is it a choice?

KEI NISHIKORI: What do you mean?

Q. Could you develop your game this well in Japan, do think, or not?

KEI NISHIKORI: I think little chance, but there is not players in Japan. That's the only thing, I guess.

Q. Do you know Shuozo?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah.

Q. Have you spoken with him?

KEI NISHIKORI: Sometimes, yeah.

Q. Does he give you advice or some words of wisdom?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah. He send me e‑mails sometimes, like so many positive things for me, yeah.

Q. Do you remember him playing, seeing pictures of him playing?

KEI NISHIKORI: I haven't seen, but I know he was great player.

Q. How recognizable of an athlete are you in Japan like when you walk down the street? Are you pretty much known?

KEI NISHIKORI: No, no. I don't think so.

In a tennis tournament, yeah.

Q. When did you start to cramp in the match?

KEI NISHIKORI: 3‑2, the fourth set.

Q. 3‑2, fourth set?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah.

Q. And you retired at Wimbledon. Was that because of cramping, also?

KEI NISHIKORI: No, it was my stomach, the muscle.

Q. Stomach muscle?

KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah.

Q. You mentioned Shuozo. Were you familiar with him cramping here and how that became a very famous...

KEI NISHIKORI: Oh, I know, yeah.

Q. Did you think about that when you started cramping today?

KEI NISHIKORI: No. No, I couldn't think anything. I just thought now. (laughter.)

Q. Why the best Japanese tennis player doesn't play with a Yonex racquet?

KEI NISHIKORI: You mean me?

Q. Yeah.

KEI NISHIKORI: I used to use Wilson when I was 10, so...


(Script via U.S. Open website, images via menstennisforums.com)

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