TOKYO – Japan’s captain and players have called on their fans to ignore etiquette and follow the example of South American soccer fans when they make their first Davis Cup quarterfinal appearance in April.
Inspired by Kei Nishikori, Japan completed a 4-1 rout over injury-hit Canada on Sunday in a library-like atmosphere.
A tiny pocket of away fans managed to create more noise than 8,000 locals in Tokyo.
“Yes, there are rules and things you can’t do in tennis but we need more support,” Japan team captain Minoru Ueda told reporters.
“Look at football fans in South America. We have a different kind of support in Japan and a different culture. It’s just a shame Canada’s supporters were more rowdy.”
A section of around 80 Canadian fans banging on pots and pans and waving giant cardboard cut-out faces of their heroes helped energize a tie dampened by the withdrawal of Canada’s top two, Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil, through injury.
Nishikori’s tie-clinching win came when opponent Frank Dancevic retired with a pulled muscle while trailing 2-6, 0-1, giving Japan’s coup de grace a sense of anti-climax.
“We’re in the quarter-finals and it’s a whole new level,” added Ueda. “Therefore we need a new level of support. The Japanese should enjoy themselves more and create a fun atmosphere like Canada’s fans.”
Go Soeda, who won the final dead rubber, also called on Japan’s traditionally reserved fans to ditch protocol and make more noise — and gave the oversized mugshots the thumbs up.
“Those would be fun,” he grinned. “It’s lovely the Japanese show such respect but you just wish they’d do stuff that annoys your opponent a bit, like they do in other countries.”
Japan will face either defending Davis Cup champions the Czech Republic or the Netherlands at home on April 4-6.
They had never previously reached the last eight since the 16-nation world group format began in 1981.