Nakashima Thrills Home Crowd, Karatsev Builds On Turin Bid
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 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.”
Nakashima arrived having won 11 of his past 15 matches – all on US hard courts – and in eighth spot in the 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.”
Earlier, Aslan Karatsev’s push for a maiden Nitto ATP Finals berth got off on the right foot as he landed a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Argentine Federico Delbonis. In a first-time ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair, the Russian won 84 per cent of first-serve points and pounced on the World No. 44’s second serve, winning 12 of 18 points. He did not face a break point in the 85-minute affair.
“I was pretty aggressive in that match. First set, I was light with my feet and then in the second set I was struggling a bit on my service game,” Karatsev said. “I was breaking him and then lost my serve and found the opportunity to break him again at 5-5. In the end I just got a bit tired, but all in all I played a great match.”
At 12th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, Karatsev sits just three places outside the cut for the Nitto ATP Finals. (The top eight in the Race qualify, but seventh-placed Rafael Nadal is out for the remainder of the season due to injury and will not compete at the season finale.) The Russian, who stood in sixth place after the first quarter of the season, continues his search for a second tour-level title after his breakthrough triumph at the ATP 500 event in Dubai in March.
Karatsev, who arrived off an opening defeat to Emil Ruusuvuori at the Astana Open, could meet Sunday’s Moselle Open champion and fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round. The Pole takes on Australian qualifier Alex Bolt first up.