By E.J. Crawford
Kei Nishikori is a fleet-footed baseliner with some of the best ground strokes in men’s tennis, a 2014 US Open finalist who ranks among the best players never to have won a major.
If the world No. 7 finally prevails at this year’s US Open, he will earn a very handsome reward.
Nishikori is the 2016 Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s champion, having claimed the title on the strength of his summer results at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, where he reached the final, and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where he advanced to the round of 16.
His Series title means Nishikori would add $1 million in bonus prize money at the US Open should he win his first career Grand Slam singles title in Flushing Meadows. That would be a total payout of $4.5 million, which would be a record in tennis.
The Japanese star finished with 85 points in the Series Bonus Challenge Standings, enough to squeak past runner-up Grigor Dimitrov and third-place finisher – and 2014 Series champion – Milos Raonic. Both players tied with 70 points, but Dimitrov won the tiebreaker on the strength of having won seven matches at the summer’s Series to Raonic’s five.
Dimitrov and Raonic will now compete for US Open bonus payouts of $500,000 and $250,000, respectively.
Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic each earned 100 points for their Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Open victories but were not eligible for the 2016 Series title. Players must earn points in two or more Series events to be eligible for the final Bonus Challenge standings and US Open bonus prize money.
Agnieszka Radwanska won the 2016 women's Series title, followed by Johanna Konta and Simona Halep.