SAN DIEGO (AP) — Hometown kid Brandon Nakashima came back after trailing by a set and then from a break down in the third to edge Fabio Fognini 6-7 (5), 6-1, 7-5 in the first round of the San Diego Open on Monday night.
The 20-year-old Nakashima, who is ranked a career-high No. 83 and was given a wild-card entry, was born in San Diego and still is based there. This was his first tour-level match in his home state and it came at a hard-court tournament that was created this year to help fill a gap in the ATP calendar created when the post-U.S. Open circuit in Asia was called off because of COVID-19 concerns.
Also Monday, Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev beat Federico Delbonis 6-1, 7-5, extending Delbonis’ losing streak on hard courts to 10 matches. Taylor Fritz faced qualifier Salvatore Caruso in the night’s last match.
After getting broken for the only time all match while falling behind 2-0 in the final set, Nakashima reeled off three games in a row thanks to a more aggressive style, including pushing forward to the net when there were openings.
He also was helped by some shaky serving by the the 34-year-old Fognini, a former Top 10 player now ranked 31st who double-faulted 11 times.
Nakashima, who beat John Isner in the first round of the U.S. Open last month, earned a total of 14 break points Monday, converting five.
He held a pair of match points at 5-4 in the third but didn’t come through either time. Nakashima did make his third chance count, though, breaking to end things when Fognini put a forehand into the net.
Next up for Nakashima will be top-seeded Andrey Rublev, who helped Team Europe win the Laver Cup over the weekend and was given a first-round bye in San Diego.
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