Unheralded American Brandon Nakashima, playing in his first ATP-level event, is into the Friday quarterfinals at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com after the 18 year old on Wednesday defeated British qualifier Cameron Norrie 7-5, 6-2.
“I always knew that I had the game to compete with these high-level pros. I just had to have the right opportunities,” Nakashima said. “I was just hoping to play a good first-round match here, but after winning these two matches, I have a lot of confidence in my game now.”
Nakashima by the Numbers:
Youngest QFist in Delray since Nishikori in 2008.
4th youngest QFist in tournament history (Nishikori, Malisse, Hewitt)
— Delray Beach Open (@DelrayBeachOpen) February 19, 2020
The San Diego native is the youngest quarterfinalist at Delray Beach since an 18-year-old Kei Nishikori took the title in 2008.
On Friday he will face Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who beat American qualifier Noah Rubin 6-1, 6-2.
The former world No. 3-ranked junior, Nakashima lost in the US Open juniors semifinals last year, and is a perfect 2-0 in career ITF-level finals, winning at Laguna Niguel, Calif., in 2018 and Rancho Santa Fe, N.M., last month.
He announced in December that he would turn pro and not return to the University of Virginia for his sophomore season after earned the ACC Rookie of the Year honor.
Nakashima is working with former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash in their first week together on tour.
“It’s nice to work with a kid who’s very keen, focused and has a lot of talent,” Cash told the ATP. “I’m just getting to know him, but I’ve been very impressed with his mentality. He’s very good under pressure, wins a lot of tiebreaks.”
The two were originally supposed to train together in California this week before Nakashima received the Delray Beach wild card.
“He’s got a lot of developing to do,” Cash said. “He’s got good technique and is very solid on the baseline. Now he needs to develop a big shot, a bit more power, and keep getting fitting and stronger. There are a lot of good players out there who play like him, so now he needs finds to something a bit special.”
Nakashima is scheduled to play at 2:30 p.m. EST on Friday, and coverage of the event is live this week on Tennis Channel.