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Nakashima downs Draper in Milan to reach title-decider at Next Gen Finals

The American will play Jiri Lehecka for the title on Saturday

Brandon Nakashima Next Gen Finals 2022 Zuma / Panoramic

American Brandon Nakashima beat Briton Jack Draper in a high-quality clash on Friday to reach the final of the Next Gen Finals in Milan.

The world No 49 came from 5-2 down in the fourth-set tiebreak as he won 4-3 (6), 1-4, 4-2, 4-3 (5) to set up a final against the Czech Jiri Lehecka, whom he beat in the group stages.

“I thought it was very high quality from both of us the whole match,” Nakashima said. “It was very back and forth. I just had to keep fighting every point. I was happy to close it out.

“He (Draper) has a great lefty serve, very aggressive from the baseline, so I knew I had to be fast on my feet.”

Nakashima’s serve the key to victory

Beaten in the semi-finals last year, Nakashima began well and though Draper saved a number of break points in the opener, the American took the first set only for the left-handed Draper to roar back in the second.

The third set was all Nakashima, though, and his serve kept him ahead – at one stage he won 19 straight points on serve.

Draper, who hit 18 aces, had chances to close out the fourth set, though, leading 5-2 in the tiebreak but Nakashima won five straight points to clinch victory and set up a rematch with Lehecka.

“I do have a lot of confidence in my game right now,” he said. “Tomorrow is going to be a new match, I’ll try to forget about that match (he beat Lehecka in straight sets) from a couple of days ago. He’s had a great week.”

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