19 Y.O. Nakashima Or Norrie To Become First-Time ATP Tour Titlist In Los Cabos
Nakashima defeated former Top 10 star John Isner 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes to reach his first tour-level final. The 19-year-old is the youngest American to reach an ATP Tour championship match since an 18-year-old Taylor Fritz in Memphis five years ago.
"It feels great. It's definitely a big accomplishment for me," Nakashima said. "Of course all the Americans, we like to play in the [United States]. But it's nice to see that I'm playing well outside the [United States]. Luckily it's actually not too far from my home here. I've definitely been enjoying it a lot."
The teen began his week without a tour-level win this season, but his aggressive tennis has proven dangerous for all his opponents. Nakashima will now try to become the youngest American champion at a tournament outside the United States since 19-year-old Michael Chang in Birmingham in 1991.
It is rare that Isner finishes a match with the second-best serving statistics on the court, but that was the case on Friday. Nakashima struck 12 aces and saved the lone break point he faced to advance.
Photo Credit: Abierto Los Cabos
The best season of Norrie’s career continues to get better. The top seed cruised past Fritz 6-3, 6-1 to reach the final.
"It's obviously very nice to be through to my fourth final [of the season]. I think it would be nice to go one step further, but I'm happy with the level I'm playing. I'm happy with the way I've approached the week, especially the first week on the hard courts," Norrie said. "I'm really happy to be through to another final, especially here in Mexico. I love competing here, I love playing close to the beach. I enjoy my time here, so it's cool to do that in front of the Mexican fans.
"I know how much they love the tennis, so it means a lot to me. Hopefully I can bring my level for one more tomorrow and let's see how it goes, but looking forward to it."
Norrie began 2021 with one tour-level championship match on his resume. This final in Mexico will be his fourth of the season. He is now tied with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for third-most wins on the ATP Tour this season with 34.
Norrie and Fritz walked on Grandstand Caliente knotted at 3-3 in their ATP Head2Head series, and four of their previous matches went to a deciding set. But the Briton jumped out in front from early in the first set, and he played consistent tennis throughout as his 23-year-old struggled to find his targets.
The top seed saved all three break points he faced and won 82 per cent of his second-serve return points to triumph after 70 minutes. In his quarter-final against Ernesto Escobedo and his semi-final against Fritz, Norrie has lost just six total games in four sets.