Yoshihito Nishioka will face a tough test on Monday when he faces Novak Djokovic in the first round at Roland Garros. The Japanese left-hander lost his two previous ATP Head2Head matches against the world No. 1, who has not missed the quarter-finals on Parisian clay since 2009.
Nishioka, who reached No. 48 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings, has hobbies off the court that include video games.
In this edition of “Gamers,” ATPTour.com spoke to Nishioka about his gaming sessions with other Japanese gamers, including Kei Nishikori, the rise of esports and more.
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Do you like video games?
I play a lot. I’m crazy. I play Nintendo Switch which is very famous right now. I also think a lot of players play Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart. We play with Kei [Nishikori] or other Japanese players like Yosuke Watanuki. We play together.
I bring the [gaming] laptop [on the road with me] and I use a mouse and headset and play games.
Of all the Japanese gamers, who is the best at video games?
Kei is quite nice. Also in Mario Kart he is very good.
How important is it to you to have video games because you’re so busy with tennis, doing something fun that’s a little different?
It’s not great to sit at home or in a hotel playing video games for four or five hours straight or something. If you have the opportunity to go out, I like to go out, so I don’t play every day. But if I have time, like an hour or two and I have nothing to do, it’s good to hang out.
And also [if] you have friends who play the same games, [you] can have conversations with friends… I can forget tennis between [matches], which I think is very important. If you only think about tennis all the time, like 24 hours a day, you’re just going to be very tired. Sometimes you have to forget.
We have to be fresh every day, because every day we face different players. We have to think differently every day. We have to forget [past] matches.
When did you start playing video games and what are the first games you remember playing?
I have a brother, we played the same games together. Pokemon we have played many times, we have fought. I think we were five or six when we started playing games. In Japan, games [are big].
Do you follow esports?
I do it. I have friends who own an esports team. I’ve spoken to them several times, it sounds quite interesting. If I have a chance, I want to try to do [e-sports] also… I’m not very good, but I want to try to be better and I want to try to play in tournaments or something like that.
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What are your thoughts on esports and the rise of esports athletes?
You don’t move your body or you won’t be tired like tennis [players]. It’s very different in a way, but I think it’s [a sport]. I play Super Smash Bros. Nintendo with a friend who plays professionally. I’ve played a few times and there’s no chance of beating them.
I sometimes have a chance in the beginning, but he says, ‘Okay, I’ll figure out how you’re going to play’, and after playing a few times, there’s no chance of beating him… It’s very, very difficult, I feel. This is how I feel. I have a lot of respect for that, that’s for sure.
When packing for a trip, do you always have to bring your Nintendo Switch? What else do you bring?
Yes, I always bring it. I am bringing the Switch and a gaming laptop. I need internet but if I have good internet [I am set].
What is your setup at home?
I started living in Japan when I was 18. From 15 to 18 [I was in the] I started living on my own, I rented a house. I started living in my house when I was 18. Now I have lived in Japan for eight years, I have never bought a television. So I don’t have a TV, but I have a monitor which is only used for TV streaming, Netflix, but also for gaming.
What’s your personal list of the top three games you’ve played?
That’s a lot of games! I spent a crazy time playing Pokemon. Dragon Quest, which is a Japanese game. Also Spartan. I think number 1 is Pokemon. #2 is Spartan. Maybe Dragon Quest, not sure about #3.