21-year-old Brandon Nakashima became the first American to win the ATP Next Gen Finals after defeating Czech Jiri Lehecka in the decider.
Nakashima is the toast of Milan, topping his outstanding week off with a 4-3(5), 4-3(6), 4-2 victory over Lehecka to become the tournament’s fifth champion; following in the footsteps of Hyeon Chung, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz.
“I am super happy right now,” Nakashima said.
“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.”
The match could easily have fallen in Lehecka’s favour, with the Czech holding a 3-1 lead in the opening set before having two set points ripped from his grasp in the second set tiebreak.
“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 said post-match.
Nakashima’s level was outstanding, with the American hitting 19 winners and making just four unforced errors. This follows his hot form throughout the round-robin stage, where he only conceded two sets whilst skating through undefeated.
“Being American and being able to play here in Milan is the best feeling in the world," Nakashima said.
"I am going to take the [title] back to the United States and now take some time off.
“My team means everything to me. Together we have had such a great year, working well together. I am happy with where we are at right now and we are going to enjoy this one.”
Time will tell if Nakashima, currently ranked at No. 49, will be able to emulate the rise of some of his Next Gen Finals-winning alumni.