By Lynelle Lim

Yoshihito Nishioka is a 26 year old professional tennis player from Japan who turned pro in 2014. He is currently ranked #58 by the ATP Tour and has achieved a career high ranking of #48 which was obtained a year ago. Standing at 1.70cm (5 ft 7 in) and 64kg, he is a left-handed player with a two-handed backhand. Nishioka’s best run at a Grand Slam event was at the 2020 Australian Open where he reached the 3rd round. The Japanese currently has 1 ATP Tour singles title under his belt, where he got the better of Pierre-Hugues Hebert in the final, at the 2018 Shenzhen Open. He'd also achieved a men’s singles medal while representing Japan at the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon.

Nishioka’s game style is counter-punching. He is an ultra-fast counterpuncher and because he is smaller in size as compared to the other players, he compensates with amazing footwork and quickness. During his younger days, Nishioka was a superb junior and achieved a career high ITF Juniors ranking of #12. He had early success since a young age and played in all the Junior Grand Slam events. He was dominating in the Junior Circuit to a certain extent and has been constantly improving, as well as coping with the physical demands of the men’s circuit.

The Japanese has a non-standard shot-making decision and he uses every inch of the court to his advantage. Pound-for-pound, he is perhaps one of the best counterpunchers in the game. Although Nishioka might struggle to sustain the high level throughout the entire match because he has to play with maximum intensity in order to keep up with the bigger guys, he has proven to give a big headache for the big stars whenever they play. The 26 year has an outstanding double-handed backhand which can redirect even the hardest shots. Nishioka uses good angles of the court, especially the short cross court. He also has an excellent return of serve and a big serve for his height. His fastest serve at the 2021 Australian Open was 197 km/h and the speed of his average serve during the tournament was 161 km/h.

Usually, indoor surfaces are faster, which may play well for Nishioka. However, the indoor courts which was laid out for the WTA Finals were slower than usual and the bounces were low because of the underlying wooden surface. That being said, it may favour Nishioka’s game.

With a number of players streaming in from Australia, it is unclear who is striking in their best form and who is not. It is an additional good circumstance for the players who can adapt to the conditions. The weather and the surface are different as the matches are played outdoors in Australia and it will be played indoors here at the OCBC Arena in the Singapore Sports Hub.

Additionally, some of the players might feel fatigue from traveling and even mentally burnt out after a long and hectic month in Melbourne, which will open the doors for the underdogs. Whoever is able to adapt to the conditions and persevere through, will triumph.

(Edited by Raj Kumar)

Lynelle Lim is a full-time tennis player and part of the national Team Singapore setup. She’s represented the Republic in various prestigious and renowned events such as the Federation Cup, WTA Future Stars, as well as the 2019 SEA Games. At the age of 13, she made the decision to take a route less familiar because she had an extremely strong desire to become a competitive tennis player. And today, Lynelle feels proud and fortunate to say that tennis has given her a great deal, and it’s taught her so much more than she could ever imagine. Aged 20 and watching the game from a different perspective, she’s looking forward to writing about the Singapore Tennis Open, featuring world class players from the Men’s ATP Tour!


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