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San Diego Natives Nakashima and Fritz Soar into Second Round

By: Thomas Cluck

The inaugural San Diego Open ATP 250 kicked off with a bang on opening night as a pair of local favorites booked their spots in the second round at Barnes Tennis Center.

Twenty-year-old American Brandon Nakashima, a San Diego native, headlined the night session and did not disappoint, battling Italian fan favorite Fabio Fognini to a three-set victory, thrilling his home crowd.

“It was definitely very exciting out there walking onto court in the beginning, having that home crowd with me,” said Nakashima, currently ranked a career-high No. 83 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

Brandon Nakashima. Photo Fred Sidhu

Nakashima, who enjoyed a memorable summer this year making back-to-back finals in Los Cabos and Atlanta before upsetting John Isner last month at the US Open, shook off a tight opening-set loss to come back and win 6-7 (5), 6-1, 7-5, extending his strong run on American soil.

“I was a little nervous at the beginning but I quickly tried to stay focused out there and just try to find my game. It was a tough first set but I was happy that I regrouped in the end,” he said.

“I didn’t think I played that bad of a first set, he [Fognini] just played a little bit better at the points in the end and that’s all it takes against a good player like that,” Nakashima added.

Fabio Fognini. Photo Fred Sidhu

“Luckily I was able to regroup quickly, get an early break in the first game of the second set and I just tried to ride the momentum there and eventually in the third set too.”

Nakashima’s win sets up a blockbuster second-round meeting with top seed and world number five Andrey Rublev, fresh off helping Team Europe to its fourth Laver Cup title in Boston yesterday.

“I’m definitely really excited for that. It’s another great opportunity for me to test my game against one of the best players in the world right now so very excited to get back out there and compete again in front of this home crowd and I think it’ll be a good match,” Nakashima said.

Nakashima’s fellow San Diego native Taylor Fritz followed him onto court Monday night and achieved the same result, eliminating another Italian, qualifier Salvatore Caruso 6-4, 7-6 (2) to move into Round two.

Fritz, the current world No. 39, will also face a similar fate as Nakashima, going up against one of the top seeds here in San Diego in fourth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada.

The action continues Tuesday at Barnes Tennis Center with a highly anticipated first-round encounter between three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori headlining the night session, while an all-American duel between Sebastian Korda and Tommy Paul followed by Grigor Dimitrov versus Marton Fucsovics highlights the day session.


First Round

[WC] B. Nakashima (USA) d F. Fognini (ITA) 67(5) 61 75
T. Fritz (USA) d [Q] S. Caruso (ITA) 64 76(2)
A. Karatsev (RUS) d F. Delbonis (ARG) 61 75

First Round

[1] J. Salisbury (GBR) / N. Skupski (GBR) d A. Behar (URU) / G. Escobar (ECU) 26 76(5) 10-5
[4] S. Bolelli (ITA) / M. Gonzalez (ARG) d D. Koepfer (GER) / N. Monroe (USA) 46 61 10-5

BARNES STADIUM start 11:30 am
S. Korda (USA) vs T. Paul (USA)
M. Fucsovics (HUN) vs G. Dimitrov (BUL)

Not Before 5:30 pm
[WC] K. Nishikori (JPN) vs [WC] A. Murray (GBR)
[Q] F. Gaio (ITA) vs [6] D. Schwartzman (ARG)

STADIUM 2 start 11:30 am
[9] L. Sonego (ITA) vs N. Basilashvili (GEO)
D. Koepfer (GER) vs C. Norrie (GBR)
A. Krajicek (USA) / A. Mies (GER) vs D. Evans (GBR) / F. Fognini (ITA)
L. Harris (RSA) vs [Q] C. Eubanks (USA)
[WC] B. Nakashima (USA) / S. Verbeek (NED) vs G. Dimitrov (BUL) / J. Rojer (NED)        
2021 San Diego Open — ATP 250 September 27 — October 3, 2021
Barnes Tennis Center, San Diego, Calif.