Tennis: Does size matter? Japan's rising son Nishikori walks tall in land of giants
News On Japan via CNN -- Oct 16
It was a fable made famous by football -- now Japan's rising tennis star Kei Nishikori is doing his best to dismiss the long-held sporting notion that size does matter.
Of the sports' top 15 players, only two are shorter than 6'0" -- Nishikori, who stands at 5'10 and Spain's current world No. 5 David Ferrer who is an inch shorter than the Japanese player.
The world's top four players - Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal - are all over 6'0, while six of the top 15 are 6'5" or taller.
Height is particularly important in tennis as it makes a player's service harder to return because of the power, height and bounce that can be generated by the server. So the tallest player of all time Ivo Karlovic, who is 6"10', is capable of serving at 251km/hr.
The 22-year-old Nishikori relies on a vast array of ground strokes and blistering speed to counteract the power he often faces in opponents that sometimes tower nearly a foot over him.
And he is slowly proving this supposed disadvantage can be his primary weapon, as his finest year to date unfolds.
In 2012 he became the first Japanese man to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 80 years and the first Japanese player to win his home nation's most prestigious tournament in its 40-year history.
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