Thursday 21


Nishikori revals Osaka confidence

24th February 2019, 16:37 by Craig Smithson

Kei Nishikori is certain fellow Japanese star Naomi Osaka will "adapt" to the pressure of being a top tennis star and win more titles.

The 27-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom in the past six months after claiming back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the US Open and Australian Open respectively.

It has catapulted Osaka to the number one spot in the rankings and thrust her into the limelight, particularly in her adoring home nation.

Signs of the pressure on Osaka showed on Tuesday when she crashed out of the Dubai Championships at the round of 32 stage, losing in straight sets against Kristina Mladenovic.

However, 28-year-old Nishikori has plenty of experience playing at the elite end of tennis over the years given that he is Japan's best-ever men's player.

And, while he has yet to win a Grand Slam like Osaka, Nishikori feels confident that she will gradually learn to live with the expectation on her shoulders.

He said: "It's much more than me, maybe a year ago she wasn't ranked top 10. Suddenly everything changes: she's No. 1, I've (only) been Top 3 before.

"There is more pressure, for sure. Being No.1, winning Grand Slams, that's something I never had before. It's a bit different. It's more than me, I think."

Nishikori added: "I'm sure she's going to adapt, she just needs the time. She has great mental, very strong, very calm. She doesn't panic too much.

"I'm sure in time she will get used to it. It's unfortunate she lost here (in Dubai) but I'm sure she's okay.

"She's going to be winning more Grand Slams."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Craig Smithson is a journalist with over two decades of experience at the keyboard. A life-long Middlesbrough fan, Craig has an in-depth knowledge of all football and is also a keen fan of boxing amongst other sports.

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