Brandon Nakashima is on a roll once again at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.
The 2021 semi-finalist moved to a 2-0 record at this year’s edition of the 21-and-under season finale with a commanding 4-1, 4-3(2), 4-2 victory against Jiri Lehecka on Wednesday in Milan.
With the unique first-to-four-games set format in place, Nakashima’s destructive early hitting earned him the first set in just 17 minutes at the Allianz Cloud. The fourth seed’s forehand remained a particularly potent weapon throughout his first tour-level meeting with Lehecka, who recovered a 1-3 deficit to force a second-set tie-break. The 20-year-old Czech then led 2-0 in the third set, but was unable to maintain the pressure on his free-flowing opponent.
“Going into it, I knew it was going to be another tough match for sure,” said Nakashima after his 69-minute victory. “He plays a very solid game, very flat, a very progressive game, so I knew I had to minimise the errors on my side and try to be aggressive off the first ball as much as possible. I thought I did that pretty well today, so [I am] happy to get the win.”
Nakashima struck 21 winners, including seven aces, and converted four of 10 break points during his victory. He later credited his hard-fought five-set win over Matteo Arnaldi on Tuesday with helping him hit his stride against Lehecka.
“I think yesterday helped me a lot today,” said Nakashima. “I was a lot more used to the conditions out here. Playing a long match out here, extra time getting used to the court and the crowd out here. I thought today I played really well and I’m going to try to keep it going.”
Nakashima is now 2-0 in Green Group, although he is not yet assured of a semi-final spot. The 21-year-old takes on Francesco Passaro in his final round-robin match on Thursday, when Lehecka will also be in action against Arnaldi.
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