The San Diego Open ATP 250 final will come down to a battle between two Californians – hometown favorite Brandon Nakashima and former UCLA Bruin Marcos Giron.
Nakashima, 21, in fact, came of age on the same Barnes Tennis Center courts where on Saturday he ousted semifinalist Christopher O’Connell of Australia, 6-4, 7-6 (3), in one hour and 50 minutes.
Nakashima, No. 69 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, defeated O’Connell, No. 130.
The Carmel Valley native has had family and friends in the stands throughout the tournament.
“I’m really excited about it. I’ve had a great week,” he said. “I feel confident in my game right now. I could feel the support out there from the very first point.”
The fifth-seeded Nakashima saved the only two break points he faced, and won 40 of 48 first-serve points (83%).
“I tried to make as many first serves as possible, and be aggressive off the first ball,” he explained.
Giron faced two hip surgeries in two years a few years ago and considered walking away from the sport. Yet the 2014 NCAA title holder in men’s singles now finds himself in the first ATP final of his career after a 6-3, 7-5 win over top-seed Daniel Evans of Great Britain.
It marked the No. 3 seed’s first win over the 25th-ranked Evans in three career head-to-heads.
The Thousand Oaks native, ranked No. 58, smacked eight of his 11 aces in the second set and finished with 40 winners to just 13 unforced errors. He has history at Barnes as well.
“Being a Southern California guy, playing here growing up, it’s kind of full-circle,” he said, making it to the finals in San Diego.
The Nakashima vs. Giron match, Sunday evening in Barnes Stadium, will be the sixth final of 2022 featuring two players from the same nation. Both will be gunning for their first tour-level title.
Although they have yet to face off on the ATP Tour, they are more than familiar with each other’s games.
“Brandon and I, we’ve practiced together many times,” Giron said. “We even practiced together earlier this week. He’s a great player.”
The San Diego Open ATP 250 Doubles Final will be played at 1:30 p.m. Jason Kubler and Luke Saville of Australia will meet Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow for the championship.