Nakashima Thrills Home Crowd To Deny Fognini in San Diego

  • Posted: Sep 28, 2021

#NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima has prevailed before his hometown crowd for the first time at tour level, with a win over Fabio Fognini in the opening round of the San Diego Open.

In a maiden ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair, the 20-year-old Californian rebounded for a 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5 victory over the former No. 9 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to set a clash with top seed Andrey Rublev. He won 80 per cent of first serve points, including eight aces, and 63 per cent on second serves, while Fognini committed 11 double faults.

“I thought to myself I didn’t really play a great first set and he played a little bit better when it got close there at the end [of the set],” Nakashima said in his on-court interview. “But I just told myself I’ve got to regroup as best as I can and just stay with the game plan, so I’m just happy I got it done.”

Nakashima arrived having won 11 of his past 15 matches – all on US hard courts – and in eighth spot in the FedEx ATP Race to Milan. The San Diego native – who reached back-to-back finals in Los Cabos and Atlanta, and defeated John Isner in the opening round of the US Open – paid tribute to the home-crowd support.

“Oh man it was huge. You guys definitely helped me there at the end to get over that finish line,” he said on court. “It’s a real honour and privilege to be playing out here in front of you all.

“I appreciate… not just today, but the past couple of years, ever since I turned pro I always love coming back to San Diego whenever I can, whenever I have a little break. It’s great to have an ATP tournament here in my home town.”

The pair could not be separated on serve throughout the opening set and it was the 34-year-old Italian whose sustained aggression paid dividends in the tiebreak. No sooner had Fognini clinched a 56-minute first set than his intensity dropped as he was broken to love. Nakashima was in the ascendancy when he secured the double break for 4-1 in the second set and broke again on his fourth set point to force the deciding set.

It served as an immediate call to action as the Italian secured his first break to open the third set. The World No. 31 was unable to ride the momentum for long as he relinquished the advantage three games later.

He fended off two match points on serve at 4-5, but was unable to force the tie–break as Nakashima broke two games later to seal the result at the two-hour, 17-minute mark.

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