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If you were to flesh out the cohort of the next generation of tennis, the first few picks would be easy: Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev are the sure shots; Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille are a little older but have got to be in the mix; and from the U.S. there’s Jack Sock and hopefully Frances Tiafoe, too. But 21-year-old, 5-foot-7 Yoshihito Nishioka was my flier pick.

There was real depth and promise in the Japanese player’s freak run at Indian Wells, a tournament he entered as a lucky loser. Several matches’ worth of youthful, stubborn defense made me reluctant to dismiss his hot streak as a fluke. Just look at this shit:

Nishioka, ranked No. 70 in the world during Indian Wells, beat No. 21 Ivo Karlovic, upset No. 14 Tomas Berdych, and drew within two points of a win over No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. (He matches up well against guys who clobber the ball.)

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Then, in the second round of the Miami Open, Nishioka took on No. 17 Jack Sock and went up a break in the first set to lead 4-2, before retiring with an apparently excruciating left knee injury.

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That turned out to be an ACL tear, as he revealed yesterday, announcing that he’d undergo surgery on Apr. 4:

Rehabilitation will take time: Nishioka would be lucky to return to tournament play before the end of the calendar year. It will slow, but hopefully not extinguish, this surge from a young player who looked capable of diversifying the top tier of men’s tennis, in both stature and nationality.