(16) Kei Nishikori

  • Last Updated: June 9 2013, 19:43 BST

Japan - and indeed the whole of Asia - has been waiting a long time for a male tennis star to emerge so there's pressure on Nishikori to continue his rise up the rankings as quickly as possible.

Kei Nishikori: Rising star of Asian tennis
Kei Nishikori: Rising star of Asian tennis

At 23, the Florida resident has time on his side to potentially get to the level needed to challenge for major honours but his promising 2012 season suggests he could be one to watch in the not too distant future.

By claiming his second career ATP title with victory over Milos Raonic in Tokyo in October, Nishikori finished at a year-end best of 19th in the world rankings which is the highest for an Asian man since Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan ended 2003 at 11.

Although he missed the French Open due to injury, his Grand Slam record last season was pretty impressive as he reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, where he lost to Andy Murray having earlier shocked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as well as the third-round stage at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

Nishikori also knocked out David Ferrer en route to the last eight of the Olympics so he clearly isn't fazed against the bigger names.

Already this year he's shown good form by progressing to the semi-finals in Brisbane and despite picking up a knee injury in defeat to eventual winner Murray, he recently tweeted his band of followers to say he'll be fine to compete in Melbourne.

So while it's highly unlikely that Nishikori will go the distance at the opening Grand Slam of the season, he'll be viewing this as an opportunity to take a couple more notable scalps as well as gaining more experience on one of the biggest stages.