Kei Nishikori of Japan celebrates after defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their semi-final match at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 6, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar
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Kei Nishikori's journey to the U.S. Open final began a decade ago, when he was spotted as a teen at a tryout in Japan and invited to move to Florida to attend a tennis academy.Nishikori was among the first beneficiaries of a project to improve Japanese tennis funded by former Sony executive Masaaki Morita.As Nishikori worked his way up the world rankings after turning professional in 2007, he became so well-known back home that it seemed less distracting to stay in Florida.Nishikori's surprising 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over No. 1-ranked and seven-time major champion Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals began at about 1 a.m. Sunday in Japan, but people across the country stayed awake to keep track.Nishikori, the first man from Japan to be ranked in the ATP's Top 10, has existing contracts that include escalator clauses providing extra money for certain accomplishments, such as reaching a Grand Slam final.
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