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AFP
August 25, 2019

Nishikori ponders mixed doubles with Osaka at Tokyo Olympics

Sports

AFP
August 25, 2019

NEW YORK: A Japanese dream duo of Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori could come together for mixed doubles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

World number one Osaka, the reigning US and Australian Open champion, and Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up ranked seventh in the world, could be a formidable combination in the fight for gold next year.

But Nishikori, who addressed the idea Friday as he prepared for the start of the US Open, worried that adding the event to singles and men’s doubles might be too much in the Tokyo summer heat.

“I will play men’s doubles, for sure. With that condition — very hot, very humid — playing singles and two doubles, I don’t know if I can,” Nishikori said.

“I haven’t (had to) think too much yet honestly. I don’t know. I will talk to Naomi later.”

Nishikori, 29, said it was understandable that 21-year-old Osaka has said this has been a tough year for her. She followed her US Open triumph with an Australian Open win, attained number one then lost and regained — enduring early exits at the French Open and Wimbledon along the way.

“I’m sure it’s going to be OK. I think time will help her get back to normal,” Nishikori said.

“I think it’s normal to have that feeling. She suddenly gets number one, winning two Grand Slams, be number one like straightaway. She’s still young.

“I’m sure she will think a lot of things — some things she doesn’t have to think. But if she can try hard practicing and play every match hard, I think she’s going to be OK.”

Osaka said a recent break from tennis helped revive her outlook on the game and her place in it.

“It has definitely changed for me,” Osaka said.

“I took a break sort of and relaxed my mind and realized that you have to have fun doing what you love.”

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