Once ranked as high as 50th in the world, 20 year old Japanese tennis sensation Kei Nishikori already has three victories over top 10 players, including James Blake and David Ferrer. But elbow surgery last year put a hold on the rising star's career. Now back to 100 percent, it's the job of tennis coach Glenn Weiner to help get Nishikori back in top form.
Weiner says, "From a ground stroke, from that perspective he's great. I haven't had to coach too much in that area. His serve has always been an area we've looked to improve on. Trying to get his elbow 100 percent, which it is, but now trying to start working on the serve again."
For Weiner and Nishikori, the relationship goes from player-coach, to player-spectator when he takes center court. Regulations prohibit communication with players during matches. Weiner says the communication barrier can be just as challenging even without a match on the line.
He adds, "The culture is just very different. He's not going to come to me and say, 'I don't like what you're doing, or you need to do this more,' so I've always got to be trying to get it out of him. I've kind of got to bug him and say, 'tell me something. Tell me more. I want to improve, I want to help you more.'"
Together they appear to be on the right track. Nishikori reached the semifinals at the Baton Rouge Pro Tennis Classic last week, and plans on being a big hit this week at the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger.
Round One Results:
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Jesse Levine (USA) 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(3).