Kenta Nishimoto is the new kid on the badminton block and he’s quickly making sure everyone knows his name.
The Japanese shuttler, just 23 years young, reached his first BWF Superseries final at last week’s YONEX French Open – Kidambi Srikanth prevailing in straight games for his second title win in succession.
But despite the result, reaching the final was in itself an achievement for Nishimoto after a couple of months in which he has firmly earned his place as one to watch for the future.
While the Superseries tournaments in Denmark and Japan didn’t entirely go to plan, Nishimoto reached the quarter-finals of the Korea Open in September and the semis of the YONEX Canada Open earlier in the summer.
But this is a man who has never won an individual men’s singles title – so where has his rapid improvement in form come from?
Nishimoto is fast becoming the latest giant-slayer to enter the circuit, defeating Lee Chong Wei, Sai Praneeth B. and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting en route to the final in Paris.
YONEX All England 2017 runner-up Shi Yuqi was also a victim back in February, downed in three games at the Asia Mixed Team Championships.
Had Nishimoto toppled his Indian opponent in the YONEX French Open final, he would have become only the second Japanese player to win a men’s singles BWF Superseries crown.
Indeed in even reaching the final, he came became only the seventh qualifier to reach a men’s singles Superseries title match.
But despite his impressive rise through the rankings – from the mid-80s to his current standing of 40th – Nishimoto must not get too ahead of himself.
He can be guilty of being too overambitious on occasions, yet with his remarkable strokeplay and flawless accuracy, the future certainly looks bright for this zealous youngster.
He’s got time on his side, and having already proven his potential, it won’t be long until the silverware starts rolling his way.
Photo: Badminton Photo