Brandon Nakashima: First-time Winner Spotlight | ATP Tour

Brandon Nakashima lost just one set last week San Diego openwhere he won his first ATP Tour title with a 6-4, 6-4 win over a fellow American Marco Giron in the final on Sunday. The trophy, presented after his third tour-level final, was made even sweeter by the backdrop of Nakashima’s hometown.

After five weekly wins, the 21-year-old returned to the top 50 and hit a new career high at 48th in the Pepperstone ATP rankings on Monday. spoke to the American as he reflected on the milestone win.

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What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It’s a very special feeling for me. After playing in two finals last year and losing both, I never thought that moment of playing in a final would happen again… let alone in my hometown of San Diego. Being able to win my first title is something very special. I played at a high level all week. I’m super proud of myself for all the hard work.

How does it feel to win in San Diego?
It feels incredible. It’s an incredible feeling to come here and host an ATP tournament here, where I grew up, where I learned how to play tennis.

I have all my family to thank. You did a great job raising me. To all my coaches, I’m so thankful for all their hard work, at juniors and up until now. There are just so many people here in San Diego who have helped me along the way and I just can’t be more grateful.

How would you describe yourself as a player and how would you describe yourself off the pitch?
As a player on the court I would describe myself as calm, composed, always trying to stay focused, super solid from the baseline; I try not to give away too many free points out there. Obviously, I think my serve and return have gotten better over the year. I’m super happy with how my game has improved.

Away from the pitch, I would probably describe myself as relaxed and calm. In my free time I also like to spend time with family and friends.

This is a milestone in your career. How will you celebrate this win?
I do not know yet. Since I’m in my hometown, I can of course go home tonight and celebrate with the team. I don’t have to fly back if we were somewhere else. I’m sure we’ll be celebrating with my whole family down here, with all my coaches. Probably go out to a nice dinner and enjoy this moment as much as possible.

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What do you think is your greatest passion outside of tennis and can you tell us a bit about that interest?
I love watching and playing other sports. Golf on my days off, watching football. Baseball, I always love supporting my home team here in San Diego [the Padres]. So it’s always super fun and exciting to follow other sports as well and get a little break for the mind away from tennis. I think it’s very important.

If you hadn’t become a tennis pro, what job do you think you would have pursued instead?
Growing up, in school and college, I always loved math/science subjects. So if I wasn’t a professional tennis player, I’d probably be something like an engineer or a computer scientist. I think those were my best subjects in high school and college, so something along those lines.

Are there any specific reasons you think your decision to go to college before turning pro helped you get to this moment?
I definitely think so. College life and the college atmosphere definitely helped prepare me for those moments on the pro tour. All those guys on the team and those coaches back there, I’m always grateful to them. I keep in touch with them, have good relations with all of them. I think college life definitely helped me prepare for all the travel as well.

Aside from the tennis side, what is your favorite aspect of touring around the world?
I think it would be easy to meet new people from all over the world, from different countries, different cultures. I never experienced that too often growing up, so now I can do it and do something I love – play tennis, travel the world – it’s a special feeling. Every time I get to travel to new countries, new places, I’m always super excited and I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to experience in the future.

We read that your favorite movie is Creed. Do you think you share any qualities with Rocky or ‘Donnie’ Creed when it comes to your tennis?
I don’t think so, not too much. (Laughs) Maybe just being competitive out there. Growing up I always loved sports movies and this was definitely one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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