He may be small, but his ball striking, speed, and “never say die” attitude has propelled Yoshihito Nishioka to a successful professional career on the ATP Tour. Plus, his humble, congenial attitude makes him likable across the world!
Standing at only 170 cm (5 ft 7 in), free points are few and far between for Yoshi. Despite this, the Japanese number one is always pushing himself to fight harder. His lefty spin and incredible depth of shot allow him to hang in any rally, and speedy footwork propels his defense to be on par with some of the game’s greats.
He’s got two ATP titles to his name and recently reached a career-high ranking of world number thirty-six in November. A little more momentum, and he’ll be seeded at the majors next year.
Let’s get down to business, though, and take a peek at his racquet.
Here’s Nishioka’s current racquet setup:
- Endorsed Racquet: Yonex Blacked Out – Formerly, and presumably the new Vcore 2023
- Actual Racquet: Yonex VCore 98 2023
- Strings: Babolat VS Gut mains and various polyester crosses at 53/50
Japan’s best player has been using Japan’s most well-known racquet brand for what seems to be his entire career.
He’s endorsed various Vcore 98 incarnations but until lately had been using the Vcore SV 98 under 2018 and 2021 Vcore 98 paint. Before that, he used the Vcore Xi 98 under Si and SV paintjobs.Embed from Getty Images
- Note the Vcore SV paintjob without “Aerofin” tech at 10 and 2 o’clock in the hoop
- Sporting a 2018 Vcore 98 paintjob with 16×20 string pattern and “Aerofin” tech indicative of the SV 98
However, since summer of 2022 Yoshi has been using a different frame, projected to be the 2023 Vcore 98.
His “Aerofin” grommets and frame geometry are gone, the frame appears wider in the upper hoop, and there are eight main strings running through the throat bridge rather than the six that had been present on previous Vcore 98 incarnations.
He’s switched around string patterns from 16×20 to 16×19 as well. In my opinion, this is a great change for him. He doesn’t get much for free, so opening up the pattern and going to what is reported to be a more powerful racquet could help his game.
I even spy a bit of lead up in the top of his frame…a swingweight bump for better performance?Embed from Getty Images
- Nishioka in Washington DC during the summer of 2022 sporting what appears to be a new racquet, presumably the 2023 Vcore update
Nishioka reportedly uses a very light racquet. Back when he was using the SV Vcore 98, his specs had been reported as
- Strung mass: 343g
- Strung balance: 31.3 cm
- Strung swingweight: 311
The number that stands out the most is his swingweight. 311 is pretty low by professional standards. The rest of the specs track, with Yoshi’s ability to hug the baseline and redirect deep, heavy shots along with his acceleration on defense.
I would not be surprised if he is playing a racquet at or near these numbers. On his new blacked-out frames, though, we can see a hint of lead in the hoop at 12 o’clock.
Maybe he’s been experimenting with a higher swingweight! I think that would be helpful for him in generating just a bit more power and spin and sparing his legs just a little when generating pace and defending.
Just like Nishioka experiments with different versions of the Vcore 98, he plays with different Yonex polyester strings as well.
We’ve seen him with blue Poly Tour Spin crosses, Poly Tour Pro in Yellow, a silver string (ALU Power?), and Poly Tour Spin G for sure. He may have tested even more, as Yonex offers many colors in their flagship polyesters.
We know for sure, though, that Yoshi is using Babolat Natural Gut mains. He tends to keep his tension somewhere between 51/48 and 53/50 depending on conditions for the mains and crosses respectfully.
- Stringing stickers in Yoshi’s frames from Wimbledon 2016 showing tensions and his use of Poly Tour Spin G crosses.
This crafty, persistent, hard-working player certainly makes up for his lack of height. Yoshi Nishioka is a wonderful competitor who isn’t afraid to experiment with new updates of his equipment.
I think it’s cool that he’s still out grinding on the tour and just recently reached a career-high after many years. Hopefully, he can continue his momentum next year when his new 2023 VCore paint is revealed!
If you’re interested in other ATP players’ racquets, I listed all the top 100 players’ racquets in this post.