First-Time Winner Spotlight: Brandon Nakashima
Brandon Nakashima dropped just one set last week at the San Diego Open, where he claimed his first ATP Tour title with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against fellow American Marcos Giron in Sunday's final. The trophy, which came following his third tour-level final, was made even sweeter by the setting in Nakashima's home city.
After notching five wins on the week, the 21-year-old returned to the Top 50 and reached a new career-high of No. 48 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday.
ATPTour.com caught up with the American as he reflected on the milestone win.
What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It’s a super special feeling for me. Playing in two finals last year and losing at both of them, I never thought this moment was going to happen again, to be in a final... let alone in my hometown of San Diego. To be able to win my first title is super special. This whole week I played at a high level. I’m super proud of myself for all the hard work.
How does it feel to win it in San Diego?
It feels amazing. It’s an unbelievable feeling just to come out here and have an ATP tournament here where I grew up, where I learned the game of tennis.
I have all my family to thank. They’ve done an amazing job raising me. All my coaches, I’m so thankful for all their hard work, in the juniors and up until now. There are just so many people here in San Diego that have helped me along the way and I just can’t be more grateful.
How would you describe yourself as a player, and how would you describe yourself off the court?
On the court as a player, I would describe myself as calm, composed, always trying to stay focussed out there, super solid from the baseline; I try not to give too many free points out there. Obviously I think my serve and return has been getting better throughout the year. I’m super happy with how my game’s been improving.
Off the court as well, I would probably describe myself as also pretty laid back, calm. I also like to have fun with family and friends during my free time.
This is a milestone moment in your career. How will you celebrate this victory?
I don't know yet. Of course being in my hometown, I get to go home tonight, celebrate with the team. I don't have to fly back, if we were somewhere else. I'm sure we're going to celebrate with all my family down here, all my coaches. Probably go out to a nice dinner and just enjoy this moment as much as possible.
What do you consider to be your biggest passion outside of tennis and can you tell us a little bit about that interest?
I love watching and playing other sports. Golf on my days off, watching football. Baseball, I always love to support my home team here in San Diego [the Padres]. So that’s always super fun and exciting just to follow other sports as well and get a little break for the mind, away from tennis. I think it’s very important.
If you had not become a professional tennis player, which job do you think you would have done instead?
Growing up, in school and in college I’ve always loved the math/science subjects. So if I wasn’t a professional tennis player, I probably would be something like an engineer or in computer science. I think those were my best subjects in high school and college, so something along those lines.
Are there any specific ways you think your decision to go to college before turning pro helped you to reach this moment?
I definitely think so. The college life and the college atmosphere definitely helped me, prepared me for those moments on the professional tour. All those guys on the team and those coaches back there, I’m always grateful for them. I keep in touch with them, have good relationships with all of them. I think the college life definitely helped me prepare for all the travel as well.
Away from the tennis side of things, what is your favourite aspect of travelling the world on Tour?
I think it would be just meeting new people all around the world, from different countries, different cultures. Growing up, I never really experienced that too much, so to be able to do it now and do something that I love — playing tennis, travelling around the world — it’s a special feeling. Any time I’m able to travel to new countries, new places, I’m always super excited and I’m sure I’m going to have a lot more to experience in the future as well.
We’ve read your favourite movie is ‘Creed’. Do you think you share any qualities with Rocky or ‘Donnie’ Creed when it comes to your tennis?
I don’t think so, not too much. (Laughs.) Maybe just the competitiveness out there. Growing up I always loved the sports movies and that was definitely one that I enjoyed a lot.