“Strongest Player at the Moment”: Japanese Tennis Star Pays Huge Compliment to Novak Djokovic

Published 12/24/2020, 1:00 PM EST
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates in his Men’s Singles first round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany during Day one of The Championships – Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 01, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Japanese tennis star Yoshihito Nishioka has opened up on his experience of playing 17-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic. Currently ranked 56 in the ATP singles rankings, Nishioka even called the Serb ‘the strongest player’ in the men’s circuit right now.


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Yoshihito Nishioka in awe of Novak Djokovic’s ball control

The Japanese, who has one ATP Tour title under his belt, has had on court showdowns with the ‘Big 4’ – the combined moniker for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, and Andy Murray.


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Appearing on an online chat event, Nishioka said he doesn’t feel he has the game at this stage of his career to get the better of the Serb.

“(Djokovic is) the strongest player at the moment,” the Japanese said, adding that he didn’t think he could beat him right now as his skill levels aren’t compatible with the Serb’s.

Nishioka doesn’t believe he can beat Novak Djokovic right now

He said that Djokovic has incredible ball control and his returns often grip the surface so much that they are hard to negotiate.

“The ball control is accurate. People who see the impression that they are just sticky. You may feel it, but I can’t attack because the quality of each ball is so high.  The base of the ball he is hitting and the level of the ball I want to hit are too different. I really felt the difference between them,” Nishioka said.

(Quotes have been translated via Google)

Djokovic holds 2-0 head-to-head lead over Japanese

Djokovic currently holds a 2-0 lead over the Japanese in head-to-head battles. Their first meeting was at the 2019 Davis Cup Finals in Spain. The Serb rode roughshod over him to clinch a clinical 6-1, 6-2 win.

Their second meeting was the Australian Open this year, where the Japanese gave a better account of himself but still went down in straight sets.


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Nishioka reached a career-high ranking of 48 this year. His win/loss record currently stands at 65-70.


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His total prize money earnings from singles and doubles events are presently at $2,779,454.


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Though in his assessment he still has some way to go before he believes he can beat a Djokovic or a Federer, an upset win could be just around the corner as he picks up more experience on the professional circuit.


Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.