American Frances Tiafoe predicted the rise of countryman Brandon Nakashima after they met for the primary time on the ATP Challenger Tour occasion in Dallas, Texas.

“Be careful for this man,” Tiafoe stated following the three-set victory in February 2020. “He’s received a vibrant future forward. He’s received recreation, I’m positively a fan.”

It didn’t take lengthy for Nakashima to make an influence on the skilled circuit. In November 2020, Nakashima collected his first Challenger title on dwelling soil in Orlando. Precisely two years later, the California native completed a breakthrough season on the ATP Tour by triumphing on the prestigious Intesa Sanpaolo Subsequent Gen ATP Finals.

The 21-year-old isn’t forgetting his early days on the Challenger Tour.

“It’s [Challenger Tour] been tremendous vital,” Nakashima stated throughout his post-championship press convention Saturday. “I believe it is tremendous particular… For any participant that is making an attempt to make it on the professional tour, I believe it is an important stepping stone to get all these Challenger matches. I did it myself as effectively.”
Brandon Nakashima in motion on the 2021 Quimper-2 Challenger.” />
Brandon Nakashima in motion on the 2021 Quimper-2 Challenger. Credit score: Marion Mochet

Within the five-year historical past of the Intesa Sanpaolo Subsequent Gen ATP Finals, every of the champions maintain no less than one ATP Challenger Tour title. Nakashima, who’s a three-time Challenger champion, joins Hyeon Chung, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner, and Carlos Alcaraz as champions in Milan.

Nakashima was certainly one of 4 teenage Challenger champions in 2020, becoming a member of Alcaraz, Tomas Machac, and Lorenzo Musetti. The next yr, Nakashima boasted a 19-7 match report on the Challenger Tour and lifted the trophy on the Quimper-2 Challenger to turn into the third-youngest American to say a number of Challenger titles prior to now 12 years.
Youngest People To Win A number of Challenger Titles (since 2010)

First Two Challenger Titles

Taylor Fritz
17 years, 11 months
Sacramento ’15, Fairfield ’15

Frances Tiafoe
18 years, 8 months
Granby ’16, Stockton ’16

Brandon Nakashima
19 years, 6 months
Orlando ’20, Quimper-2 ’21

“I believe the [Challenger] degree is tremendous excessive,” Nakashima stated. “It’s a very good constructing block to win these Challengers after which to graduate on to the ATP tournaments.

Nakashima’s rise didn’t decelerate, it solely accelerated. Nakashima went on a powerful run to complete runner-up on the ATP 250 occasions Los Cabos and Atlanta in back-to-back weeks (July 2021).

This season, Nakashima gained his maiden Tour-level title in his hometown, San Diego, the place he dropped only one set all week en path to victory. The American has solely competed at two Challengers this season (Phoenix and Surbiton). On the grass courts of Surbiton, Nakashima reached the quarter-finals, the place he misplaced to top-seeded Andy Murray.

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A month after the San Diego title, Nakashima reached a career-high 43 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Displaying consistency off each groundstrokes, psychological fortitude, and a relaxed manner, Nakashima has his eyes set on climbing to the highest spot, very similar to how final yr’s Milan champion Alcaraz has accomplished.

“I’ve at all times needed to be No. 1 on the earth and win a Grand Slam,” Nakashima instructed in 2020. “It’s only a matter of growing my recreation throughout this time and simply making an attempt to get extra experiences like this underneath my belt and we’ll see the way it goes from right here.”

Whereas the early days of his profession have been spent on the ATP Challenger Tour, there isn’t any telling what the longer term holds for the #NextGenATP champion.
Brandon Nakashima” />
Brandon Nakashima lifts the trophy on the 2022 Intesa Sanpaolo Subsequent Gen ATP Finals. Credit score: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

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