Hong Kong: Veteran Japanese tennis star Kimiko Date-Krumm said Tuesday she had sent losing US Open finalist Kei Nishikori a text message telling him he should be proud of his Grand Slam exploits.
Nishikori defeated three top five players -- Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka and world number one Novak Djokovic - on his way to becoming the first Asian male to reach a Grand Slam singles final.
But the US Open final proved a match too far and the 24-year-old lost in straight sets to Croatia`s Marin Cilic on Monday, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
"I sent him a text message," Date-Krumm told reporters in Hong Kong, where she was competing in a WTA event.
"I said don`t be sad because it was a big, big success. Try to go to the next stage."
Date-Krumm, 43, said Nishikori had replied saying he`d been nervous before the match.
Nishikori`s previous best Grand Slam performance had been in reaching the last eight of the 2012 Australian Open. Not since Date-Krumm reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1996 has Japanese tennis witnessed anything close to Nishikori`s heroics in New York.
"For a Japanese player to get to the final is a big, big success," Date-Krumm said.
"Kei is not a big guy. He has so much talent but it`s not easy."
Date-Krumm was Asia`s biggest tennis star during the 1990s. She reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 1994 and the last four of the French Open in 1995 before her Wimbledon run the following year.
China`s Li Na, Asia`s most successful-ever player, won the French Open in 2011 and the Australian Open this year.
"In women`s tennis 20 years ago no one thought we (Asians) could get to a final and men`s tennis is even more difficult.
"Maybe in the future Kei can go on and win one just like Li Na," Date-Krumm added.
The evergreen Japanese player was speaking after defeating Swede Johanna Larsson 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Hong Kong Open on Tuesday.