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Playing tennis dressed as a samurai while brandishing a wooden sword may sound like the stuff of fantasy but for Japan’s Kei Nishikori it’s just another day at the office.
The top-five player recently decked himself out in historical attire and performed a number of acrobatic moves coupled with driving forehands for a television noodle commercial in his home country. It may sound like a bit too much for the traditionalist, but for one of the tennis world’s most marketable men – Forbes estimated his total yearly income as $11 million – it is starting becoming water off a duck’s back. One of the more reserved characters on the ATP circuit, Nishikori is feeling more comfortable representing a country of more than 127 million.


Off court sword-wielding aside, the softly spoken Nishikori let his tennis do the talking in 2014, with a shock final appearance at the US Open inspiring a career-high ranking of No.5.
Qualifying for the end-of-year ATP World Tour Finals, the 24-year-old claimed the confidence-boosting scalps of Andy Murray and David Ferrer prior to a three-set loss to Novak Djokovic. At the Australian Open – essentially Nishikori’s home grand slam event – he is yet to progress past the quarterfinal stage, suffering a straight sets defeat at the hands of Rafael Nadal last year. At 178cm, Nishikori concedes height to almost every opponent but what he lacks in wingspan he makes up for with dogged determination, and he’s beginning to add more power and precision to his baseline play.


A case in point was his 41-winner performance against Ferrer, a player of similar ilk, at November’s World Tour Finals.
Called the Polo Croco Flag, the famous Lacoste croc is showing country colors from numerous different countries, including Argentina, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, South Africa and more.



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