Top-seeded Rublev overpowers Nakashima in San Diego Open
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Top-seeded Andrey Rublev broke to begin each set and was on his way to overpowering wild-card entry Brandon Nakashima 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of the San Diego Open on Wednesday.
Rublev, fresh off helping Team Europe win the Laver Cup exhibition in Boston, used big forehands to take control of points from the baseline.
“Since the beginning, I was thinking I need to be the one who’s going to dominate. I need to try to take my forehand and try to dictate,” said Rublev, a 23-year-old Russian who is ranked No. 5 and has been to four Grand Slam quarterfinals.
Rublev improved to 45-15 in 2021. He had a first-round bye at the hard-court tournament that was a late addition to the ATP calendar to make up for the cancellation of the tour’s Asian swing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This was the first match against a top-20 opponent for Nakashima, a 20-year-old from San Diego who is ranked 83rd.
Next up for Rublev is a match against No. 6 seed Diego Schwartzman, who came back from a set and a break down to get past Lloyd Harris 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 at night. Harris was visited by a trainer for a problem with his left foot in the second set, during a stretch in which Schwartzman claimed 10 of 11 games.
No. 5 Hubert Hurkacz and No. 8 Dan Evans were seeded winners earlier in the day.
Hurkacz, who won singles and doubles titles at Metz, France, last week, defeated qualifier Alex Bolt 7-6 (2), 6-1, and Evans beat two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson 7-6 (11), 7-5.
In Evans’ victory, 22 points in a row were won by the server from 3-all to 6-all in the opening set. Then, in the tiebreaker, it was Anderson who nosed ahead and held set points at 6-5 and 7-6 but failed to convert.
Anderson, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open in 2017 and to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2018, got a third chance to close out the set when ahead 11-10 but again came up short. Eventually, Evans took it on his fourth set point.
“A little fortunate to come through that one,” Evans said.
Evans, who is ranked a career-high 22nd, now faces 28th-ranked Cam Norrie in an all-British matchup.
“I know him pretty well; he knows me,” said Evans, who figured there will be chatter about the upcoming meeting on a text messaging group both he and Norrie are part of.
They’ve played each other once before on tour: Norrie beat Evans in four sets in the first round at the Australian Open in February.
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