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Masterful In Milan: Nakashima Races To Lehecka Win

Fourth seed claims second victory of week to top Green Group
November 09, 2022
Brandon Nakashima in action against Jiri Lehecka on Wednesday at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.
Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Brandon Nakashima in action against Jiri Lehecka on Wednesday at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. By ATP Staff

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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