Tennis: Hewitt tips Nishikori as Slam contender
HONG KONG (AFP) - Australia's Lleyton Hewitt on Tuesday said Kei Nishikori was developing into a serious contender at tennis Grand Slams as he bids to emulate China's Li Na by becoming an Asian major winner.
Hewitt, 32, who will share the stage with China's Li at next month's BNP Paribas Showdown in Hong Kong, said Japan's world No.16 stood the strongest chance of becoming the first Asian-born male singles Slam champion.
The former world No.1 fought past 24-year-old Nishikori in three sets on the way to winning last month's Brisbane International, and he said the Japanese star has "really stepped it up".
Sixteenth-ranked Nishikori, now advised by former French Open-winner Michael Chang, also pushed top seed Rafael Nadal in January's Australian Open round of 16 in one of his best Grand Slam performances.