Hometown Hero: Nakashima Wins First ATP Title In Native San Diego
Third time's the charm for Brandon Nakashima. The 21-year-old completed a dream week in his home city by winning his first ATP Tour title on Sunday at the San Diego Open.
Playing in his third ATP Tour final, and his first of 2022, the San Diego native defeated third seed Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-4 in an all-American final. It was a fitting finale at the ATP 250 event, with Giron also hailing from Southern California and living in San Diego in recent years.
"It feels like a dream out here," Nakashima said post-match after hugging family and friends courtside. "My first ATP title in my hometown. To be able to capture my first title here, it's unbelievable. Amazing atmosphere out here tonight, and I just really want to say thank you for coming out and showing your support."
Nakashima has moved up 21 places this week to No. 48 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, setting himself up for a new career-high. The American also solidifed his poisition in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan, moving up one place to sixth as he seeks to return to the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. Nakashima reached the semi-finals at the year-end showcase last season.
After claiming the lone break point of a quick opening set, Nakashima was pegged back after building a 2-0 lead in the second. But after dropping serve for the first time on the night, he won eight straight points from 2-2 to regain control at the Barnes Tennis Center. Stellar serving helped Nakashima avoid a nervy finish, as he won 12 of the last 13 points on his own delivery, including a love hold to close out the victory.
After the opening set passed without a single deuce game, four games went to deuce in the second set as the finalists were deadlocked in a baseline battle. The two longest games of the match went Giron's way, as he broke for 2-2 and later held to stay within touching distance at 3-4.
While there was little to separate both players in the rallies, Nakashima's serve made the difference. He saved three of four break points behind a 79 per cent win rate on first serve, firing eight aces in the victory.
"No matter the score out here today, I always knew there were going to be some tough moments," added Nakashima, who recalled practising with his "great friend" Giron in his junior days. "I knew it wasn't going to come easy. I had to battle for every game. At the beginning of the second set, a couple of tight games. I lost my serve, but I think I regrouped pretty well in the next game. Happy to close it out on my serve."