Nakashima, Lehecka Seek SFs In Milan

  • Posted: Nov 09, 2022

Nakashima, Lehecka Seek SFs In Milan

Musetti faces Stricker in evening session

On Wednesday at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, three players will have an opportunity to clinch a place in the semi-finals with one match to spare.

Jiri Lehecka is the only man to hold his fate in his own hands on Day 2, as a win against Brandon Nakashima in three or four sets would see him through. Nakashima and Lorenzo Musetti could also book their tickets to the semis with wins, but both would need help from other results.

Here’s what to watch as the action continues at the Allianz Cloud in Milan.

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[4] Brandon Nakashima (USA) vs. [5] Jiri Lehecka (CZE)

Nakashima and Lehecka, both 21, earned contrasting wins against Italian opposition on Day 1. The American needed five sets and more than two hours to edge Matteo Arnaldi, while Lehecka dismissed Francesco Passaro in straight sets. The Czech’s dominant victory earned him the top position in the Green Group, while Nakashima sits second.

The winner of their Day 2 meeting — the first ATP Head2Head matchup between the pair — will stand alone as the group’s one remaining undefeated player.

Nakashima is seeking to return to the Milan semi-finals in his second appearance at the event, while Lehecka looks to stay undefeated in his debut. The Czech will be playing for his 12th tour-level victory; he earned his first ATP Tour wins in February in a breakout run to the Rotterdam semi-finals as a qualifier at the ATP 500.

While a Lehecka victory in three or four sets would secure the Czech’s position in the semis, Nakashima would need a win coupled with a victory by Arnaldi to be assured of a spot in the knockout rounds by day’s end. If Passaro defeats Arnaldi in Wednesday’s opening match, any manner of victory for Lehecka would see him advance on the spot.


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[8] Francesco Passaro (ITA) vs. [9] Matteo Arnaldi (ITA)

This all-Italian matchup of Milan debutants will be a high-stakes affair, with the loser facing a major uphill battle to qualify for the semi-finals from 0-2. Passaro, who earned his first ATP Tour win earlier this season in Florence, will hope to earn another victory on home soil against his countryman.

Arnaldi fell just short of his first tour-level win on Day 1 against Nakashima, failing to convert on multiple set points to secure a two-set lead against the American before losing in five. But despite being the last man into the Milan field, the 21-year-old showed he belonged and gave the Italian crowd plenty to cheer about with his electric shotmaking.

The 21-year-olds have met once before on the ATP Challenger Tour, also in Italy, with Arnaldi earning a straight-sets win in March in Roseto Degli Abruzzi.

[2] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) vs. [7] Dominic Stricker (SUI)

World No. 23 Musetti is the highest-ranked man in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings competing in Milan. Add in his home-court advantage and red-hot form and it’s clear why the Italian is among the favourites to lift the title on Saturday.

After winning his second ATP Tour title in Naples in October and upsetting Casper Ruud to reach the Paris quarter-finals last week, he opened his second Milan appearance with a straight-sets win against Chun-Hsin Tseng. Musetti would clinch a spot in the semis if he and Tseng both win on Tuesday. He could also advance with a Jack Draper win, though the scenarios are more complicated. (Read the full semi-final qualification scenarios.)

Dominic Stricker, who won three tie-breaks to defeat third seed Draper at the close of Day 1, will seek to complete an upset double against Musetti. A win would give him victories against the two highest-ranked players in the Milan draw.

[3] Jack Draper (GBR) vs. [6] Chun-Hsin Tseng (TPE)

Draper and Tseng will both seek bounce-back wins in  a rematch of the 2018 Wimbledon junior singles final, won in three sets by Tseng. While both men flashed their brilliance for stretches on Tuesday, neither could claim a set on Day 1. Draper suffered a hard-luck loss against Stricker, while Tseng won just six games against second seed Musetti.

While there are no home favourites in this evening-session opener, Draper has enjoyed strong results in Italy this season, posting a 16-2 Challenger record and claiming three indoor titles in the European nation.

Tseng hopes to represent Asia well in Milan as the second man from the continent to compete at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, joining 2017 champion Hyeon Chung.

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