25 years ago, Nishikori’s coach Michael Chang won the French Open. Your Daily Read looks back.
Have you recovered from all of last night’s excitement yet?
First, baby-faced assassin Kei Nishikori demolished Djokovic who seemed strangely out of it in both the match and the post-game interview. (We have learnt to love the new big-hearted, big-spirited Djokovic so don’t go changing on us again Nole!)
And then, when Federer fans across the world waited with bated breath for what could have been his best chance to win another Grand Slam (although that is selling the talents of Nishikori a bit short, isn’t it?), he was defeated by one of the Not Quites, Cilic. Marin Cilic who has been flirting with the big leagues since 2008, and who we remember fondly from his Chennai Open win in 2010 (where he- ironically- lost to Nishikori in the first round of 2011), has finally made it to a Grand Slam final!
But the man of the hour is clearly Kei Nishikori, the first man from Asia to ever make it to a Grand Slam final, with his seering pace and easy smile. As Steve Tignor, one of our favourite tennis writers, describes it:
While his win was an upset, Nishikori’s performance was hardly a surprise. He’s already beaten Roger Federer this year, and he had Rafael Nadal on the ropes on clay in the Madrid final before having to retire with a back injury. Today he was able to do what few opponents can: Hang in, and win, backhand-to-backhand rallies with Djokovic. We began the Grand Slam season gushing about Wawrinka’s one-handed backhand; we’re finishing it gushing over Nishikori’s two-hander.
And if Nishikori’s tenacity and bull dog mentality reminds you of someone, could it perhaps be that of his coach Michael Chang, the man with the best spirit in the game, possibly ever?
For your daily read today, we recommend this earlier-in-the-year profile of Chang, when he took on the mantle of being Nishikori’s coach at the French Open, a tournament he won when he was only 17 in 1989.
25 years from that fateful year, Chang possibly imparts the same lessons to his protege who is now ready to take on history in his own right.
The lessons from 1989 were manifold: keep your tactics flexible; refuse to be intimidated by those of greater experience and achievement; keep fighting, hustling, lunging and hobbling no matter how much your legs cramp and your optimism wavers
Lessons for tennis, and perhaps life?
On another note: Go Wozniacki!
Image via Kate- cc