Darn Good Sport

ASIA’S NEW TEN­NIS DAR­LING, Kei Nishikori, TALKS TRAIN­ING, TRI­UMPH AND SPICY FOOD AS HE PRE­PARES TO FIGHT FOR A GRAND SLAM TI­TLE AT THIS MONTH’S AUS­TRALIAN OPEN

Hong Kong Tatler - - Small Talk -

Kei nishikori’s eyes widen. He starts to sweat. The beam that al­most per­ma­nently il­lu­mi­nates his face mu­tates into an ex­pres­sion of amused panic. The 25-year-old ten­nis star has just tasted a piece of spice-rid­dled soft­shell crab at Hu­tong dur­ing lunch on a stopover in Hong Kong. “May I please have a glass of milk?” he asks a waiter, fol­low­ing a sug­ges­tion that a dash of dairy might quench the fire in his mouth. He smiles through the pain, demon­strat­ing the same de­ter­mi­na­tion that led him to re­write the sport’s his­tory books in Septem­ber when, at the US Open, he be­came the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam sin­gles fi­nal. Nishikori was de­feated in straight sets by his Croa­t­ian op­po­nent, Marin Cilic, but the charm­ing Ja­panese dy­namo gets his sec­ond chance Down Un­der this month. Fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of China’s ten­nis queen, Li Na, in Septem­ber, fans, spon­sors and com­men­ta­tors have pinned their hopes for Asian ten­nis on Nishikori—and he doesn’t want to dis­ap­point.

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