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 didn’t think I played that bad of a first set. He just played a bit better at the points at the end and that’s all it takes against a player like that,” Nakashima said. “But luckily I was able to regroup quickly, get a break first game of the second set and tried to ride the momentum from there.”
Scouting Report: Rublev Leads San Diego Field, Sinner Defending Sofia Title
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.
“It was definitely very exciting out there, walking onto court in the beginning, having that home crowd with me,” Nakashima said. “I was a little bit nervous at the beginning but tried to stay focused out there, tried to find my game. It was a tough first set but I was happy I regrouped at the end.”
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.