The Land of the Rising Sun has a few bright rising stars, but none have risen quite as quickly as Japan’s new No.1: Nao Hibino.
Not content to simply win her first ever WTA main draw match this year at Tokyo, Hibino went on to Tashkent to snatch up her first WTA title – all within the same month!
Hibino has been putting in hard work at the ITF level all year long, winning three 50K-level events – Fukukoa, Stockton and Lexington – and making a final in Kurume. Coached by Eiji Takeuchi, Hibino has been rapidly climbing the ranks and is ready to take on the WTA.
Following her incredible September results, wtatennis.com tracked down the 20-year-old to find out the secrets behind her breakthrough.
How did you get started playing tennis?
When I was 10 years old my mom introduced my older brother to tennis in order to shift his attention from playing video games to doing a sport. So around that time I also got a chance to start tennis.
Can you tell us about your family?
Besides my parents, I have an older sister and an older brother. I have two dogs named Louis and Coco. I usually can’t stay with my family because I am away training and playing tournaments, but they are always very warm and cheerful and I really love them.
Where do you live?
I live in Kobe, Japan for training.
Who coaches you?
Mr. Eiji Takeuchi has been my coach for three years. I’ve learned so many things from him not only on court, but also off the court.
What is your favorite surface/tournament?
I prefer hardcourts, but I like Wimbledon the most. I have been dreaming of playing on Centre Court of Wimbledon ever since I was a child.
What was it like to win your first WTA event?
I really could not believe it! I was just very happy when I won an ITF 50K tournament this summer for the first time – how could I expect that I would win a WTA tournament in the same year? I was more than happy about this unexpected title.
What are your goals in tennis?
I would like to take part in the Olympic Games and Fed Cup as a representative of Japan. Of course, winning a Grand Slam title is also my goal.
What has been your best tennis memory?
It is that my first victory in WTA match could take place in Japan, at the Tokyo International event. I wish to make more precious memories from now on.
What do you like to do off the court?
I like spending time with my family because I don’t usually live with them. When I return home, I often go shopping with my sister and take my dogs for a walk. I also like reading, so I often read books when I have time.
Do you like to explore the cities you visit on the tour?
I do!! I go sightseeing to eat local food and visit famous places when I have any free time.
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
It would be Miranda Kerr!! I even have her book, and her way of thinking has inspired me a lot. I would love to meet her for once in my life.
What is your favorite film/book/TV show?
My favorite movies are The Devil Wears Prada and The Princess Diaries. I like Anne Hathaway and her movies. My favorite books are mostly mystery stories, and my favorite TV shows are Japanese TV drama series and reality shows.
What would be your dream vacation?
I would like to travel overseas with my family and friends. I always think that travelling abroad without carrying tennis rackets and huge suitcases would make a great vacation.
Is there anything else you want fans to know about you?
I want many people to watch me play. It would be really nice if, by watching my performances, people could know that there are many great Japanese players out there. And I hope that more people will be interested in Japan and Japanese tennis players!!