IMG Academy's Sabine Lisicki, a native of Troisdorf, Germany, won her first WTA title in three years at the Hong Kong Open on Sunday. In the final, the 24-year old Lisicki, ranked #24 in the WTA standings, took down Karolina Pliskova in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3. Lisicki, like recent U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan, has been training at IMG Academy for over a decade.
On Saturday evening, IMG Academy's Naoki Nakagawa, partnering with Australia's Omar Jasika, won the U.S. Open Junior Doubles tournament. Nakagawa and Jasika were the sixth-seed in the tournament, and faced the Brazilian duo of Joao Menezes and Rafael Matos in the final, winning 6-3, 7-6.
In what is being considered a stunning upset, a relatively unknown Japanese tennis player, Kei Nishikori, defeated the No.1 ranked Novak Djokovic in the 2014 U.S. Open tennis championship on Saturday – becoming the first Japanese man to reach a Grand Slam final in tennis history.
So exactly who is this hot up-and-comer? We've compiled five things to know about the guy who just seriously shook up the tennis world.
TOKYO — Kei Nishikori is the first Japanese man to reach a Grand Slam singles final, but in Japan he is seen as a most un-Japanese sports hero.
IMG Academy's own Kei Nishikori was already on a historic run at the U.S. Open when he became the first Japanese playeer since 1918 to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. Now, Nishikori occupies an even more significant place in tennis history as the first male Asian born player to reach a Grand Slam final today. Nishikori achieved the feat by ousting current world #1 ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia in four sets, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6, 6-3 to advance to the final.
It has been a remarkable 10-year period of growth and development for Japan's Kei Nishikori, who arrived at IMG Academy in 2004 at 14-years of age. He was one of the first promising young talent selected by the [Masaaki] Morita Tennis Fund to develop in the U.S. with an emphasis on both skill development and English language and cultural education. Mr. Masaaki Morita, former CEO of the Sony Corporation, created the tennis fund to further Japanese tennis with these elements in mind.
On the heels of his ITF Fergana Cup victory in August, Hady Habib was on top once again, winning the Boys 18s division of the USTA Summer Smash Sectionals in Delray Beach, Fla., held Aug. 30 - Sept. 1. Habib made short work of the field, cruising through the first four rounds of the main draw in straight sets. In the final, Habib faced Tripp Tuff of Jacksonville, Fla. The match went to a tie-break, and Habib went on to win 6-4, 5-7 [10-3].
The U.S. Open is in full swing, and IMG Academy's Kei Nishikori has reached the quarterfinal. Nishikori is the highest ranked Japanese male tennis player in history, and reaching the quarterfinals of this year's Open is his best career performance in Flushing, N.Y. It also matches his best ever Grand Slam performance when he reached the quarters of the Australian Open in 2012. However, Nishikori may be feeling a little worse for wear after finishing his fourth round matchup at 2:26 a.m. EST on the day of his quarterfinal match.
With the U.S. Open in full swing in Flushing, N.Y., the question of who the next great American tennis champion may be has arisen once again. In the latest edition of the St. Augustine Record (Florida), Jean Desdunes, a longtime veteran of the United States Tennis Association's (USTA) Player Development program, sat down with reporter Will Brown to discuss the question. In the article, Desdunes highlights IMG Academy's own Michael Mmoh as one player with the potential to take the mantle of America's next great tennis champion.