Tennis star Kei Nishikori first Japanese man to reach the French Open quarter-finals since 1933

ESPN/ATP World Tour: 

Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man in more than 80 years to reach the quarterfinals at the French Open as he breezed past Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Japanese star has yet to drop a set in his four matches in Paris over the past week and is the first Japanese man to reach the quarter-finals since Jiro Satoh, a semi-finalist in 1931 and 1933.

Fifth seed Nishikori produced a string of 40 winners to beat the No. 74-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 58 minutes. He will next challenge No. 14 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated fourth seed Tomas Berdych in four sets.

I hope it’s just the start of my journey, and I hope I can keep going,” said Nishikori. “This is first time for me in the quarter-finals, so it means a lot for me.

“It always means a lot to make history. Especially for Japanese, Asian [players] the clay is not the best surface for us. Now I’m trying to make the new step. I hope I can keep going like this on clay courts.”

Nishikori has a 4-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Tsonga. Their quarter-final clash will be their first clay-court meeting.

We haven’t played a long time,” said Nishikori, looking ahead to the Tsonga match. “He’s coming back very strong. He has a big serve [and] big forehand. He’s always a dangerous player… So it’s going to be fun match.”

Best Asian American athletes in 2014

Northwest Asian Weekly (By Jason Cruz)

It was another stellar year for API sports.

It started off with Doug Baldwin and the Seattle Seahawks bringing home the team’s first ever Super Bowl and a parade that seemingly the whole city of Seattle came to see.

The Winter Olympics were a bit of a disappointment for Asian Americans. Mirai Nagusa was denied making the U.S. women’s figure skating team despite making the top three.

J.R. Celski earned a Silver medal in the men’s Short Track 5000-meter relay but failed to medal in any of the three individual events he competed in.

Julie Chu, the first Asian American woman to play for the U.S. women’s ice hockey team ended her career with a Silver medal for the U.S. team. However, her quest for Gold was thwarted just three minutes before the end of the Gold Medal Game against Canada. With the U.S. up 2-0, Canada made a furious comeback and scored two goals in three minutes to send the game into overtime where Team Canada scored another goal for the Gold. Chu played in an unprecedented four Olympics and was the U.S. Olympic team’s Flag Bearer for the closing ceremonies.

In April, Manny Pacquiao returned to the ring and avenged a controversial loss to Tim Bradley by winning a convincing unanimous decision.

The World Cup was held in Brazil in June and the two Asian nations competing, South Korea and Japan, did not fare well. Both were eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

Also in June, Michelle Wie won her first major golf championship with a win at the U.S. Women’s Open. At the same tournament, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest qualifier in the U.S. Women’s Open.

University of Washington men’s golf team member Cheng-Tsung Pan played in the British Open in July. The UW junior earned the spot by tying for second at a qualifying event in Thailand. This fall, Pan decided to turn pro.

The U.S. Tennis Open featured great runs by 24-year-old Japanese star Kei Nishikori and China’s Peng Shuai.

Nishikori, who was coached by Chinese American Michael Chang, made it all the way to the men’s final before losing to Milos Raonic.

Shuai made a surprising run to the semifinals where she had to retire (forfeit) due to continued leg cramps.

Absent from the women’s side of the tournament was Li Na who announced her retirement in September.

In October, Apolo Ohno finished the famed Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.

November saw Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring as he destroyed Chris Algieri. Pacquiao’s next opponent…Floyd Mayweather?

In December, the University of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, college football’s biggest individual award.
Mariota becomes the first Asian Pacific Islander to win the trophy.

And without further ado, here are the top 10 API athletes of 2014:

10. Harley Kirsch

Kirsch, who is part Korean, was the quarterback for the Eastside Catholic High School team that defeated the vaunted Bellevue High School football team to win the Washington state class 3A football championship. Located in Sammamish, Washington, the school ended Bellevue’s 67 game winning streak. Kirsch is only a junior and will return next season to lead Eastside Catholic.

9. Amelia Andrilenas

The junior gymnast at Juanita High School qualified for the state meet and placed first, second, and fourth in all-around meets during the 2013-2014 season.

For the outsider, the most astonishing thing about the 4’11” gymnast is that she has only one hand. Andrilenas, who was adopted from China, took up gymnastics at an early age and has excelled since.

8. Jeremy Lin

Lin was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers this past offseason to complement Kobe Bryant. So far, Lin has not done much to help Kobe. He’s averaging just 10 points for the currently 9 win and 22 loss Lakers. He did score a season high 21 points in the Lakers’ first win. While he is far-removed from the days of New York and Linsanity, he still is a contributing member of the Lakers who hope to rebuild.

7. Tim Lincecum

It seems that every other year Lincecum and his San Francisco Giants seem to win a World Series. The Giants won baseball’s World Series this year making it three times in the past five years that the team has won the title. Lincecum, who is a Washington native and part Filipino, pitched his second-career no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in June. He also picked up his 100th career win this past September. Although Lincecum played sparingly in the World Series, he picks up his third ring.

6. Chloe Kim

At only 14, Kim was too young to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics but the snowboarder did earn silver in the “superpipe” at this year’s Winter X Games. Look for the Korean American to make the next team in the 2018 Winter Olympics which are in her parents’ home country of South Korea.

5. Julie Chu

A pioneer in the field of women’s hockey as Chu was the first Asian American to be on the women’s team and the first to play in four Olympics. She also starred in a commercial with her mother shown during the Winter Olympics.

4. Mirai Nagusa

The 21-year-old Los Angeles native was denied a spot on the 2014 Winter Olympics women’s figure skating team despite winning the Bronze medal at the U.S. Championships. Usually, the top three are awarded spots on the Olympic team. However, the U.S. Figure Skating committee determined that Ashley Wagner, the fourth place finisher make the team based on Wagner’s stronger international record. Although it was reported that Nagusa would appeal the decision, she later decided not to pursue it.

3. Apolo Ohno

The Olympic medalist is keeping busy in retirement. Last year he ran the New York Marathon. This year, he has completed one of the most grueling events out there, the Kona Ironman Triathlon. Ohno finished in 9 hours, 52 minutes and 27 seconds. What will he do next?

2. Marcus Mariota

The Oregon Duck won the Heisman Trophy in December and leads his team into the first College Football Playoff. Mariota is certain to be a top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

1. Doug Baldwin

It’s pretty easy to pick Baldwin as he was a key part of the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl last year and remains one of Russell Wilson’s most valuable receivers. Hopefully, we’ll see Baldwin (and the rest of the Seahawks) with another Super Bowl ring in 2015.


Kei Nishikori reaches U.S. Open final, beating Novak Djokovic and becoming the first man from Asia to reach a Grand Slam final.

Kei Nishikori of Japan won in four sets on Saturday at the U.S. Open.

As Kei Nishikori has kept fighting through imposing obstacles at this United States Open, his coach Michael Chang has kept reminding him, “Great effort, but the tournament is not over yet.”

It certainly is not. After fighting his way through consecutive five-set matches to earn a semifinal spot against No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic, Nishikori extended his one-man show of resilience by upsetting Djokovic to reach the final.

His remarkable 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory on Saturday made him the first man from Asia to reach a Grand Slam singles final.

It’s, I don’t know, 4 o’clock in the morning,” Nishikori, 24, said of the time in his native Japan. “But I hope a lot of people are watching.”

If they were not on Saturday, they will be soon. Nishikori, who left home at age 14 to train at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Fla., was a star in his homeland. His run here and his victory over Djokovic will take him to a new level.

I was a little bit tight,” Nishikori said, “especially it was my first semifinal in a Grand Slam, but it’s just amazing, amazing feeling beating the No. 1 player.”

In Monday’s final, Nishikori will face the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal between No. 2-seeded Roger Federer and No. 14 Marin Cilic.

The 10th-seeded Nishikori is the lowest seed to reach the final of the United States Open since Pete Sampras, who was seeded 17th when he won the title in 2002 in what turned out to be his final professional match. But Nishikori is just getting started and might well have made this kind of breakthrough earlier if not for a series of injuries, including a serious right elbow problem that required surgery in 2009 and knocked him far out of the top 100.

He has long been considered a great talent by people who have seen plenty of great talent, including Nick Bollettieri, the veteran American coach who is the instructor emeritus at the academy in Bradenton that once bore his name.

He and Xavier Malisse and Marcelo Rios are the best shotmakers I’ve ever worked with,” Bollettieri said in an interview before this season. “If Kei Nishikori could stay healthy, he could be and would be right up with the big boys.

Eight months later, there he was in Arthur Ashe Stadium beating the top-ranked player in the world. Nishikori had played Djokovic twice before; losing in the second round of the French Open in straight sets in 2010, and upsetting him in 2011 near the end of Djokovic’s finest season in the semifinals of the indoor tournament in Basel, Switzerland.

But this was certainly a much grander stage than Basel, and what made his victory all the more remarkable was that Nishikori had spent nearly three and a half hours longer on court in this tournament than Djokovic coming into this semifinal.

Nishikori needed five sets and more than four hours to beat fifth-seeded Milos Raonic in a fourth round that ended at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday. He did not get to bed until close to 6 that morning but then bounced back on Wednesday to upset third-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the reigning Australian Open champion, in five sets.

Before he played Stan, I was more concerned that he would still be focusing on the Raonic match,” Chang said. “So I was like constantly telling him, ‘Hey you’ve got another match here to play, another match, another match.’ Because that tends to be the struggle with players that have a big win and then a letdown following that.”

Chang, the American who shocked the tennis world to win the 1989 French Open at age 17, began coaching Nishikori this season, joining a team that included his coach Dante Bottini and the fitness trainer Hiroto Kon.

He’s been helping me a lot,” Nishikori said of Chang. “Him and Dante communicating a lot, and it’s been working super well, so that’s why I’m here.”


Tennis phenom Kei Nishikori: “Project 10”

23-year-old Kei Nishikori, the world’s No. 11 ranking male tennis player and highest ranked Japanese male tennis player, was drawn with a qualifier in the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday. Having beaten the likes of Roger Fereder and Novak Djokovic in recent seasons, he enjoys almost rock star-like fame back in his home country.

Nishikori, who reached the third round a year ago, is seeded 11th at the season’s last Grand Slam competition starting Monday. He could face seventh seed Roger Federer in the last 16.

Check out this link:

Tennis phenom Kei Nishikori: “Project 10”

Kei Nishikori