FORBES Magazine published their annual list of the world’s highest paid athletes this week.

No surprise to see Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic up there – but Sunday Serve was surprised to see Kei Nishikori.

One would have thought Rafa would have rounded out the top three for tennis, but no the 29-year-old Nishikori is a superstar in his own country – Japan – a reason for such a ranking perhaps.

Photo: Andy Cheung/ArcK Images

In face his practise sessions at home before slams and other bingo events became so hard to manage because of the large crowds, he moved his entourage to the US, such Diaz his popularity.

Nishikori isn’t quite up there with Roger ($93.4m) or Nole ($50.6m) but he did pull in a cool $37.3m to rank him 35th – two spots ahead of Rafa on $35m.
And how has he done that?

Project 45. The name Nishikori gave to his his plan to beat Japan’s then highest ranking player, Shuzo Matsuoka, who wa sranked at #46.

Nishikori is currently ranked at #7 in the world – although he did make it to #4 last year for a brief spell.

And his sponsors love him: Nike shoes, Jaguar, Nissin noodles, Japan Airlines and a few more.

Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

THE French Open may be over but plans are already in place for 2020.

A new retractable roof on the Philippe Chatrier Stadium, and a statue in honour of Rafael Nadal.

According to other tennis sources, the the 12-time winner wanted the statue to feature him lifting the trophy.

After some negotiation Sunday Serve understands, he accepted it to feature him while hitting a ball.

Talk of renaming one of the arenas in his honour seem a little premature.

Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

NEWLY crowned French Open champion Ash Barty has taken the week off to let her win sink in as she plots how to become world No.1.

Barty begins her grass-court season in Birmingham tomorrow before finalising her Wimbledon preparations at Eastbourne.

And if she wins either tournament, she could see herself heading for south London as the No.1 ranked player.

That depends on what current No.1 Naomi Osaka does of course.

“Being No.2 in the world is incredible and something I never dreamt of as a child and we’ll keep chipping away and try our best to get to No.1,” she said as the Roland Garros victory began to sink in.

ALSO playing at the Birmingham event will five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams as a a wildcard, along with defending champion Petra Kvitova and British No.1 Johanna Konta.

The tournament runs from 15-23 June. Garbine Muguruza has been forced to withdraw from the event with a leg injury.


KING Richard, the movie starring Will Smith as the father and coach of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, has served up its a release date.

The film, which will premiere in theatres across the US next November, tracks how Richard Williams trained his daughters to be the best tennis players in the world.

Variety, the showbiz publication, reports it “will tell the true story of the hardscrabble but iron-willed father of Venus and Serena Williams who had a plan to make his daughters the greatest tennis players in the world.”

Will it depict the USO tantrum? Probably not.

STICKING with the Williams line, the hot topic – or story of the week in the English tabloids, as we head towards Wimbledon, has been the PR campaign by Serena’s team to show her as loving mum, after the bad press of her Paris exit.

Williams shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia’s hair while explaining why she feels honoured to carry on the historic ‘tradition of bonding’ with her own child, in the London Daily Mail.

The 37-year-old tennis champ took to Instagram to post the image, which shows her concentrating as she braids her one-year-old’s natural curls.

THIS year’s Wimbledon championships are set to be the most technologically advanced yet thanks to the latest releases from IBM.

The technology giant has again partnered with the All-England Lawn Tennis Club for the tournament which is set to start on July 1, for a number of key tech upgrades.

The new Watson Acoustics analytics can detect exactly when the ball has been struck, allowing the AELTC tighter cropping of highlight clips, saving vital time and maximising every second of rights footage.

The system can also use Watson to recognise levels of crowd noise and even the excitement levels of the players. This will reportedly allow it to remove bias when searching for highlights from players with a particularly vocal following or those who are particularly animated on court.

Wimbledon has also announced a tie-up with Chinese phone maker Oppo, which will become its official phone partner.

Oppo has previously had similar deals with FC Barcelona and the International Cricket Council.


Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

AND finally … Aussie bad boy Nick Kyrgios has come out fighting ahead of his appearance at the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club next week.

“I’m one of the best grass-courters in the world on my day so I know that I can back myself under pressure on this surface,” boasted Kyrgios.

That will go down well with many who urged him to keep his mouth shut and concentrate on the tennis.

Remember the comments in an interview describing he “cringeworthy” Novak Djokovic and “super salty” Rafael Nadal?

When pressed by the London Daily Telegraph on whether anyone in the of the locker room had commented on his outbursts, Kyrgios replied typically: “A couple of people have loved it. I’m not going to mention names, but regardless if people like it or don’t like it they were just my honest thoughts.”

Oh, for those sedate days of a gentleman’s game played on the finest grass England can provide.