Nishikori looks to inspire Japanese youngsters

Japan's highest-ever ranked tennis player, Kei Nishikori, hopes his breakthrough performances can help wean his country's youngsters off their love of football and baseball.

The 18th-ranked Nishikori, one of a record four Japanese men to make the main draw at the US Open, reached the quarter-finals at this year's Australian Open, the first man from his country to achieve the feat.

He also reached a career-high ranking of 16th in March.

"Hopefully, one day tennis can be big. There's me and Kimiko (Date Krumm) used to be in the top, but still soccer and baseball are the two biggest sports. I'd like to see tennis to get major," said the 22-year-old.

Nishikori reached the second round of the US Open on Monday with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Argentine qualifier Guido Andreozzi, a welcome victory after suffering two injury-forced withdrawals in the first round in 2010 and 2011.

Compatriot Hiroki Moriya, who qualified for the main draw, saw his campaign ended by Croatia's Ivan Dodig 6-0, 6-1, 6-2.

That left Go Soeda, who faces American 23rd seed Mardy Fish, and Tatsuma Ito, up against Australia's Matthew Ebden, as the other two remaining Japanese men in the draw.

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