Japanese Tennis Player Makes New Record

March 3, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. overwhelm (v.) – to defeat
Example: With their best players, the team was able to overwhelm the defending champion.

2. feat (n.) – a remarkable achievement usually gained in an extraordinary way
Example: Writing a book at a young age is a feat.

3. par (n.) – status of being at same level or standard as another
Example: After years of practice, his skills are now on par with his mentor’s.

4. accomplished (adj.) –  having the skills of an expert
ExampleAccomplished artists create great works of art.

5. bag (v.) – to achieve or gain
Example: People congratulated the pianist who bagged awards in the international competition.

Read the text below.

For the first time since 1968, a male Japanese tennis player made it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

On January 23, 2012, Kei Nishikori, 22, was able to accomplish this new record after overwhelming Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in a five-set match that lasted three and a half hours. Although Nishikori later lost to the UK’s Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, the Japanese player still proved to be worthy of Japan’s pride.

Nishikori’s entry into the quarterfinals equaled the achievement of Japanese player Shuzo Matsuoka, who reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 1995. Before Nishikori, Matsuoka had been Japan’s most accomplished male tennis player.

Additionally, Nishikori’s qualification was a great feat for Japanese male tennis players, who have not had successes yet on par with those of Japanese female players. Even though Matsuoka was Japan’s best, he only reached no. 46 in men’s world rankings. In comparison, Japanese female tennis players Kimiko Date-Krumm and Ai Sugiyama were able to reach the top ten of women’s world rankings during the height of their careers.

But hard work allowed Nishikori to become one of the world’s top tennis players. Even without knowing any English, the 14-year-old future tennis star went to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Because of his goal to top Matsuoka’s no. 46 rank, Nishikori was nicknamed “Project 45”. At 18, he became the youngest man to win an Association of Tennis Professionals title since Australian and former world no.1 player Lleyton Hewitt bagged the title at the age of 16.

After hiring Brad Gilbert as one of his coaches at the end of 2010, Nishikori became even stronger and passed Matsuoka’s record, reaching the no. 24 world rank in 2011. At present, Nishikori is world no. 17 in men’s tennis rankings. He still aims for a Grand Slam title, which if he can achieve, will be another first for Asian males.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What factors drive you to excel in what you do?
·         What do you think is the best motivation for winning? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         How important is it for athletes to start young in playing their sports?
·         What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing professional sports at a young age?


March 3, 2012