社説:全米テニス 歴史を刻んだ錦織選手

September 10, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Nishikori makes history at U.S. Open
社説:全米テニス 歴史を刻んだ錦織選手

In an essay shortly before he graduated from elementary school and moved to the United States at age 13, Kei Nishikori wrote that his dream was to be the world champion in tennis. Nishikori has added a new page in the history of tennis although he will have to wait a bit longer for his dream to maybe come true.

Nishikori, 24, was overwhelmed by the powerful serve of Croatia's 25-year-old Marin Cilic in the final of the U.S. Open. After the match, Nishikori said "it wasn't my best tennis," and apologized for failing to win the trophy. However, he does not have to apologize. He should be proud that he became the first Japanese tennis player to advance to the final of a singles event at one of the four major tennis championships -- the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Nishikori was not highly evaluated before the tournament began. He underwent surgery to his right big toe in early August, and expressed concern about the condition of the toe at a news conference prior to the event. However, he won his more than four-hour-long fourth match by beating one of the world's top-ranked players and won the quarterfinal with his tenacious play, becoming the first Japanese tennis player in 96 years to advance to the semifinal. He then won the semifinal by stunning favorite Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

In recent years, the men's tennis world has been dominated by top four players led by Djokovic. This time, Nishikori joined the top-ranked players along with Cilic, who won a major championship for the first time, possibly changing the rankings in the men's tennis world dramatically.

Nishikori told a news conference following the final that he hopes to advance to the finals of a major tournament again. His international ranking has risen from 11th prior to the game to eighth. The public can place high expectations on the possibility that his dream will come true next season or beyond.

Nishikori's outstanding performance at the U.S. Open has also shed light on the great Japanese players of yesteryear.  歴史に埋もれていた日本の偉大なプレーヤーたちに光を当てたことも錦織選手の功績だろう。

Many people have learned that Japanese tennis had its golden age from the late 1910s to the 1930s. Ichiya Kumagai became the first Japanese player to advance to the semifinal of the U.S. Open in 1918. Zenzo Shimizu played in the semifinals of Wimbledon while Jiro Sato made it to the semifinals of the French Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

Nishikori is not the only Japanese player who performed outstandingly in the latest U.S. Open. Kimiko Date-Krumm, 43, advanced to the semifinals of women's doubles for the first time, and made it to the semifinals of women's singles -- for the third time in a major championship. Date retired from tennis at the age of 26 but made a comeback in 2008 at age 37 after getting married. Many people apparently sympathize with Date who says she enjoys both tennis and her private life.

Shingo Kunieda, 30, won the championship in wheelchair men's singles -- for the first time in three years and fifth time overall -- while Yui Kamiji, 20, won her first championship in wheelchair women's singles. Both of them also won doubles. Their performances tended to be overwhelmed by Nishikori's play during the competition, but their achievements should also be highly praised.

毎日新聞 2014年09月10日 02時32分

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