Injured Nishikori makes the most of his Hawaii Open experience

The defending Hawaii Open champion, Kei Nishikori, sheepishly wondered aloud at the pre-tournament press conference whether it was okay to disclose his injury status.  After all, it was widely known that the Japanese star cut his 2019 season short due to a nagging right elbow injury initially sustained during the French Open.  Following the U.S. Open, Nishikori opted to undergo surgery in October, skipping the entire Asian hardcourt swing.

However, it was also assumed upon his arrival that he would defend his title in Honolulu.  That ended up not being the case.  “The elbow is doing well,” said Nishikori, who announced after the Hawaii Open that he would also skip the inaugural ATP Cup and 2020 Australian Open. “I’m going to see week by week when I can come back,” he added.


As 18-year-old wild card Brandon Nakashima took advantage of Nishikori’s withdrawal – reaching the final, where he lost to Sam Querrey, 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 13-11 (super tiebreak) – Japan’s top male player kept himself busy.  On Christmas Eve, he appeared at the Ala Moana Center UNIQLO Hawaii store to meet 30 fans.  On Dec. 26, in addition to the 2019 Hawaii Open pro-am and Media Day, he ran a Japan Airlines x Kei Nishikori Fun Event for kids at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.

At the men’s final, Nishikori watched part of the match in the stands, provided some color commentary for The Tennis Channel, and presented the trophy to champion Sam Querrey.

“It was a great match,” Nishikori said in an on-court interview. “I think everybody was enjoying it. But at the same time I was a little bit sad because I couldn’t play. Hopefully I can come back next year.”



Of note was the UNIQLO Global Ambassador’s fashion choice for the final.  From a distance, Nishikori appeared to be wearing a regular Hawaiian shirt.  That it was, but with a twist: in partnership with Bandai Namco, UNIQLO Hawaii unveiled a series of “The Game Classic Pixels” shirts just before Nishikori’s arrival to the islands.  Nishikori’s Hawaiian Pac-Man open collar printed shirt is part of the UNIQLO Hawai’i Collection, which is not sold in U.S. mainland stores.  With just one UNIQLO shop in the entire state of Hawaii, the US$29.95 shirt is pretty difficult to track down.  If you’re lucky enough to grab ahold of one, the familiar Pac-Man game design includes local touches such as ocean waves, flowers and pineapples among the pellets.



Video: Kei Nishikori at the 2019 Hawaii Open men’s final
video by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Photos: Kei Nishikori at the 2019 Hawaii Open men’s championship
all photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Full Video Playlist: 2019 Hawaii Open
all videos by Kwai Chan and Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine