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Pro Media & News

Brandon Nakashima triumphs at Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan

Victoria Chiesa | November 12, 2022


American Brandon Nakashima is generation now: The 21-year-old is the 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion.

 

Nakashima defeated Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic on Sunday 4-3(5), 4-3(6), 4-2 to win the year-end championships for ATP players aged 21-and-under. It's his second title of his career, both won this year, in his second and final appearance at the age-eligible event. Twelve months ago, he lost in the semifinals to fellow American Sebastian Korda, who finished as runner-up to Carlos Alcaraz, from two-sets-to-one up.

 

“I am super happy right now,” Nakashima said on-court in victory. “It was a great tournament, this whole week. This final was another tough match. Just a few points that could have gone either way. I am happy with my level today. I couldn't think of a better way to finish off the year."

 

Nakashima came from 3-1 down in the first set against Lehecka, and saved two set points in the second set, in what was an 80-minute victory. He hit 19 winners to just four unforced errors in triumph, and hammered 11 aces.

 

“It was a final, so you know there are going to be some pressure moments," he said. "There were some nerves coming out the beginning, but I am happy I was able to turn it around quickly, find my game, and close it out at the end.”

The Next Gen ATP Finals began in 2017 and is defined by unique rules, including its hallmark five-set format where each set is played to four games with no-ad scoring. The event is played on a court with singles-only sidelines, and includes experimental rule changes. This year, there was a 15-second shot clock following aces and missed returns instead of the traditional 25, and one sit-down for the players per set.

 

Nakashima came into the event as the third seed behind home favorite Lorenzo Musetti and British sensation Jack Draper following the withdrawals of Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner. He lost just two sets in five victories, and they both came in the same match: a five-set triumph against Matteo Arnaldi, an Italian ranked No. 134, in his first round-round match.

Road to the Championship - Brandon Nakashima

Round Robin: def. Matteo Arnaldi (ITA) 2-4, 4-3(7), 4-3(4), 3-4(4), 4-2

Round Robin: def. Jiri Lehecka (CZE) 4–1, 4–3(2), 4–2

Round Robin: def. Francesco Passaro (IT) 4-3(4), 4-2, 4-1

Semifinals: def. Jack Draper (GBR) 4-3(6), 1-4, 4-2, 4-3(5)

Final: def. Jiri Lehecka (CZE) 4-3(5), 4-3(6), 4-2

 

Nakashima closed out his second full professional season in style with the victory. His other 2022 highlights included his first tour-level trophy on home soil in San Diego, and his first fourth-round showing at a Grand Slam at Wimbledon. 

 

He's the first player in the five-year history of the Next Gen ATP Finals to win it in his second appearance, and joins Chung Hyeon, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Alcaraz on the event's all-time roll of honor.

 

"To be on the list of past champions here, it's such a super achievement," Nakashima said later, after being presented his trophy.

 

"This tournament is so well-organized for the younger generation ... It's definitely one of my favorite tournaments throughout the year, so I'm very happy to have won the title in my last year here and I'm super grateful."

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