Brandon Nakashima: Mental toughness key to success in specific Next Gen Finals format

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Brandon Nakashima: Mental toughness key to success in specific Next Gen Finals format

Rising American star Brandon Nakashima absolutely enjoyed his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals on Tuesday. Nakashima, ranked at No. 63 in the world, made a winning start to his campaign in Milan as he saw off Argentine Juan Manuel Cerundolo 4-1 3-4 (3) 4-1 4-0.

“It was super fun out here,” Nakashima said in his on-court interview, per the Next Gen ATP Finals website. “The atmosphere was electric right from the beginning. It is an amazing feeling playing in front of these fans.

I am really happy with how I played in front of all these fans. [It was important] to stay there mentally. A lot of crucial points out there with the no-Ad and then in the second set he kind of picked up his level and I had to battle”.

Nakashima getting adjusted to the specific format

“It is different from the practise court now to the matches,” Nakashima added. “Also with the crucial points. It is tough sometimes, but you have to stay focused as much as possible and take every opportunity out there.

I just tried to stick to my game plan and hopefully I will be able to continue”. Nakashima had a chance to win the opener with a bagel but Cerundolo saved two set points in the fourth game. However, Nakashima kept his focus and served out for the opener in the following game.

As no breaks were seen in the second set, the set had to be resolved in a tie-break. The two plyers were tied at three points apiece after the opening six points but then Cerundolo stepped up and won four consecutive points to level the match at one set apiece.

Losing a tight second set didn't affect Nakashia, who started the third set with a 3-0 lead before serving out for the set in the fifth game. Nakashima then bageled Cerundolo in the fourth set to seal the win.