After nine seasons with coach Donte Bottini, Kei Nishikori has decided it’s time for a new voice in his corner. Joining Michael Chang on the Nishikori coaching team is recently retired doubles star Max Mirnyi.
The addition makes sense, as both Nishikori and Mirnyi have spent a big chunk of their lives together at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Here are five facts about Nishikori’s new coach:
His nickname is “The Beast,” and it’s one of the most accurate nicknames ever. No one covered the net like the 6’5” Belarusian. Mirnyi is a class act and all-around nice guy, but he remains one of the most physically intimidating players to ever take the court.
Until recently, Mirnyi owned one of Bradenton’s best pizza joints, the aptly named Break Point Pizza. Unfortunately the restaurant was forced to shut down because of Bryan Shobe. According to the restaruant website, the former manger is "a liar, a thief and fraud [who] embezzled 0.5 million dollars from [the] restaurant".
Mirnyi experienced Olympic glory in London at the 2012 games. Not only did Mirnyi carry the Belarusian flag at the Opening Ceremony, he also won the gold medal in mixed doubles with Victoria Azarenka.
Before committing to doubles full-time, Mirnyi was an accomplished singles player. He maxed out at No. 18 in the world and won his sole singles title in Rotterdam in 2003.
Throughout his 22-year career Mirnyi racked up 10 Grand Slam titles (six in doubles and four in mixed doubles) With Mirnyi in his corner, look out for Nishikori’s net game come 2020.