Nakashima beats Lehecka in straight sets to win Next Gen ATP Finals title

American Brandon Nakashima clinched the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals title in Milan on Saturday with a straight-sets win over Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic.

It took fourth-seeded Nakashima an hour and 20 minutes to beat Lehecka 4-3 (5), 4-3 (6), 4-2 in the summit clash and make it five wins out of five matches at the event.

This was Nakashima’s second appearance at the year-ending tournament for 21-and-under players. In 2021, Nakashima had lost to compatriot Sebastian Korda in the semifinals.

The 21-year-old Nakashima, who won career’s first tour-level event in San Diego in September, had some tough moments in the match as he trailed 1-3 in the opening set and faced two set points in the second-set tiebreak. However, on both occasions, he managed to comeback against the fifth-seeded Lehecka.

“It was a great tournament, this whole week. This final was another tough match. Just a few points that could have gone either way. I am happy with my level today. It is a good way to finish off the year,” Nakashima told after the victory.

He added, “It was a final, so there are going to be some pressure moments. There were some nerves at the beginning, but I am happy I was able to turn it around quickly and close it out at the end.”

Nakashima became the fifth player to win the title, joining Hyeon Chung (2017), Stefanos Tsitsipas (2018), Jannik Sinner (2019) and Carlos Alcaraz (2021).

The event features shorter sets of first-to-four games and other experimental format changes. New rules included no changeovers after the first game of each set and only one sit-down per set after three games; a 15-second serve clock after aces, double-faults and unreturned serves; and coaching during an opponent’s medical timeout or toilet break.

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