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February 19, 2008

Kei Nishikori

THE MODERATOR: Kei is in San Jose, and he will play Diego Hartfield in the opening round of the SAP Open. SAPOpentennis.com has live streaming coverage of every match, and if you want to see him play and can't get to San Jose to see him play, SAPOpentennis.com is a great place to catch the action this week.
I'll start off with the first question. You said Sunday you couldn't believe you just beat James Blake, do you believe it yet?
KEI NISHIKORI: A little bit. But still, it's, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Well, I'll open it up to questions.

Q. Can I ask you, what got you to the point last week that you were able to play such great tennis, the type of work you've been putting in and your coaching situation and all that?
KEI NISHIKORI: I was working so hard these last two months. I was injured, my back, and now it's okay. My serve was good this -- I mean, last week. I get some aces and it was getting so much better.
And the mentally was so strong, I saved so many like break points, I was so aggressive, and yeah, I mean, mentally was so strong.

Q. Did you expect your success to come so soon, because you're only 18.
KEI NISHIKORI: No. My goal was to win Challenger this year and I didn't expect that.

Q. How has your life changed in the last 48 hours or so, what has it been like for you since Sunday evening? What was your day like yesterday, a lot of phone calls from Japan, I'm just wondering.
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, I was so happy and when I get back to the Academy, 20 guys was surprising me, and like a hundred of e-mail.

Q. Hundreds of e-mails?

Q. And the guys in the Academy who surprised you, what did they do when you arrived there? What did they do?
KEI NISHIKORI: I arrive like ten o'clock and they waiting and they gave me cake and gave me speech, Nick Bollettieri.

Q. Oh, yeah? What did he say in his speech?
KEI NISHIKORI: "Congratulations and keep going."

Q. I wanted to ask one other follow up. Do you feel now that you've won this tournament and you're getting more attention, do you feel more pressure heading into the next tournament, heading into San Jose; do you now feel like your goals have grown and do you feel more pressure now?
KEI NISHIKORI: Not so much. Still I don't feel pressure yet.

Q. You don't feel that you have to repeat what you did here in Delray, being able to beat some top players; do you feel like now if you go to the next tournament, you don't feel the pressure to repeat what you did here?
KEI NISHIKORI: No, what do you mean?

Q. Once you've beaten a player like James Blake, and you've proved that you can do it to yourself, that you proved that you can beat somebody of that level, do you now feel more pressure to beat more players at that level?
KEI NISHIKORI: Oh, no, I get more confidence, yeah. Not like I get pressure. Yeah, I feel I can beat anybody right now.

Q. What did your parents and your family and your friends say back home in Japan?
KEI NISHIKORI: I talk to my parents right after I won last week. And they told me congratulations and I almost cried, I was so happy.

Q. They were happy for you?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, yeah.

Q. So I was wondering if you got e-mail from Shuzo Matsuoka?

Q. And what did he say?
KEI NISHIKORI: Just the same thing, just congratulations and it was -- yeah, he was so happy and just started, so ...

Q. Sorry. Also did you talk to Mr. Morita?

Q. What did he say?
KEI NISHIKORI: Just "congratulations and keep winning."

Q. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
KEI NISHIKORI: The biggest?

Q. Who has been the most influential, who has motivated you the most to play tennis?
KEI NISHIKORI: I think that's my parents.

Q. Were they players?

Q. Did they play the game or do they play the game?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, just for fun.

Q. I heard today that they have a nickname for you, Project 45, because they want you at Bollettieri -- the goal was for you to be the highest-ranked Japanese player ever, and I'm wondering now, do you feel a higher goal than 45, or is 45 still the goal right now?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, still 45, but in the future I want to be like top ten.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about why the Japanese women players, tennis players, have had so much success, but there's very few Japanese male players who have had as much success?
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, I don't know, when I practice in Japan, I don't have so many top players, and a good thing for me was practice in the U.S. and all the top players I can hit with, Tommy Haas, and that's great motivation.

Q. So do you feel like you really needed to come to the U.S. in order to improve?
KEI NISHIKORI: I mean, doesn't have to be U.S., but we don't have any golf players in Japan. So it's tough to say, I don't know.

Q. You mentioned your goal is to get into the top ten; how long do you think it will take you to get there?
KEI NISHIKORI: I hope five years.

Q. Did you say five?

Q. I heard you were expecting an e-mail or phone call from Roger, Roger Federer, and you would say 'I am going to beat you in the future.' Did you already talk to Roger or did you get an e-mail from Roger?
KEI NISHIKORI: No, no, I don't. But in these five years, I hope I can beat him.

Q. Roger is the one you look up to; right? Roger is a player you look up to?

Q. I understand your intention is to come to Las Vegas and play, is that true?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, yeah.

Q. What are your thoughts on playing in that tournament outdoors in early March when it's windy and kind of cold?
KEI NISHIKORI: I've never been to Las Vegas, and that's a fun city.

Q. Some of the players that you beat in Delray are going to be in Vegas. How much will that help your confidence and try to be successful in Vegas; is that a big edge for you?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, I guess. Yeah, I guess confidence --

Q. Your win over Sam Querrey, I think was a big one for you in Delray.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about how that helped get you ready and beat James Blake?
KEI NISHIKORI: I'm sorry, what do you mean?

Q. I was curious as to how the success you had in beating Sam QUerrey helped prepare you to play as well as you did against James and beat him.
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, I had match point and the beginning as I was tight and nervous, but he had a big serve, and I was returning okay. And he had a big serve I think for match point.

Q. The fact that you've been training at the Academy and living in Florida, how much has that helped speed up your development?
KEI NISHIKORI: So much. It was all the good players there and good coaches, and yeah --

Q. Getting the competition and the coaching?

Q. I know right now you're focused on San Jose, but what comes next, Las Vegas? What other plans do you have, what other tournaments do you plan to compete in?
KEI NISHIKORI: Memphis and Las Vegas and Miami and Davis Cup.

Q. Did you hit with Roger Federer at Wimbledon last year, and if you did, what was that experience like?
KEI NISHIKORI: It was not in Wimbledon, but it was in Miami.

Q. Oh, in Miami, last year?

Q. Because you played in the tournament in Miami, in the junior tournament?

Q. And so what was that like for you to be hitting with Roger Federer? Were you nervous?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yes, I was so nervous in the beginning but he was so nice, and we played a couple sets but I won.

Q. You did?

Q. You won a set or a game?

Q. You won a set?

Q. You won a set from Roger Federer?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, but it was practice.

Q. Of course it was practice but still, how did that make you feel? Most people can't even beat him in a practice, you know.
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, that make me confident, yeah.

Q. Did he give you any advice? Did he tell you anything after your practice with him?

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