Nakashima Celebrates 20th Birthday With Washington Win
The 20-year-old is in great form after making the final in back-to-back weeks in Los Cabos and Atlanta. Nakashima showed his confidence against this year's Singapore titlist, converting all three of his break points to advance after 70 minutes.
"it's always tough, especially when you're playing the final of one tournament and then having to bounce back the next day or a couple days later and play another new tournament against another top player," Nakashima said. "I just try to tell myself to just stay calm out there, just focus on what I do best. All these hard-court matches have helped me with my confidence in my game, knowing that I can compete with all these top guys if I bring my best game out there."
Before the Mifel Open began two weeks ago, Nakashima had not won a tour-level match since last year's US Open. Since beginning his run in Los Cabos, the American has gone 9-2, a stretch that propelled him into the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday for the first time at World No. 89.
Nakashima secured the critical break for 3-2 in the second set with great groundstroke depth, causing Popyrin to miss a forehand into the net. The home favourite lost just one more service point the rest of the way and earned his third service break to finish off his victory. Nakashima will next play sixth seed Daniel Evans of Great Britain.
"I think it's great that I'm able to back up these good weeks with another good run back to back," Nakashima said. "Hopefully I can continue here."
Another #NextGenATP American, Sebastian Korda, also advanced to the second round. The 12th seed beat Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-5, 6-4 to set a clash against fifth seed Jannik Sinner or Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori.
Korda dominated on Pospisil's second serve, winning 68 per cent of those points to triumph after one hour and 29 minutes. This year's Parma champion saved all three break points he faced on his Washington debut.