Grigor Dimitrov opened his participation in the US Open with an uncompromising three-set success over the local representative Steve Johnson, and today he will try to do the same against another American in the person of one of the most talented young tennis players, Brandon Nakashima. The two have only played one meeting between them, which took place earlier this season at the start of the Rome Masters, where our home representative prevailed in straight sets. The upcoming clash between them is expected to start no earlier than 21:00 Bulgarian time, and until then let’s think together how Dimitrov could record a second success over the youngster.
What can we expect from Brandon Nakashima?
Nakashima is right-handed, plays a two-handed backhand and is 188 centimeters tall. Brandon is ranked No. 69 in the world, down 20 spots from his peak in mid-July. The youngster has established himself as one of his country’s top talents, reaching third in the junior rankings, and two seasons ago he also reached back-to-back weeks at the ATP 250 finals in Los Cabos and Atlanta, becoming the first American teenager with such an achievement since Andy Roddick.
The 20-year-old describes his style as similar to that of Novak Djokovic and makes no secret of his preference for his backhand. Nakashima grew up almost entirely on hard courts, and it’s no surprise that this is his favorite surface. The American has a well-balanced game, being able to switch directions with ease from both sides, and his shots have enough depth to not give his opponent easy finishing shots.
Nakashima is not famous for a particularly powerful serve, but he knows how to place his serves perfectly and wins quite a few direct points from this element. His returns rarely leave the contours of the court and are one of his strongest qualities, as the youngster is always ready to attack the opponent’s serve with his return stroke.
The world number 69 is neither among the most powerful nor among the most athletic tennis players, but he has a great eye for the game and is extremely tactically mature for his age. These qualities help him build a very resilient character, and many pundits say Nakashima has the demeanor of a veteran and never lets himself lose his composure on the court.
How can Grigor Dimitrov be opposed?
Our compatriot should focus his efforts on the forehand of the 21-year-old player, which is executed with a high trajectory over the net and cannot cause any problems for Grisho. Dimitrov also has to take the initiative and move the lower-ranked player all over the court, because Nakashima does not naturally move well on clay and will often be late in his performances if he is put in a defensive position.
The Bulgarian should not engage in monotonous exchanges from the bottom of the court, because they fit the style of his opponent, who very rarely makes small mistakes. Grigor can safely use the youngster’s not-so-good spin to put his short balls into use, and it is also a good idea to go to the net on the youngster’s palm shot, from where he does not have the opportunity to finish the ball.
Nakashima is a true master of the counter game, so our native representative should not leave him comfortable angles to strike back when building his actions. The world number 19 will definitely be forced to differentiate himself from his slice, given the American’s ability to easily absorb this type of performance, relying on the serious amount of topspin in his arsenal.
It is abundantly clear that the youngster will be looking for Dimitrov’s backhand, but this will not happen at high speed and the Khaskovian has the real opportunity to move to the forehand regularly and attack Nakashima’s oversecured shots.
Expectations and odds
I expect Grigor to build on his excellent performance in the last round and do not expect him to lose more than a set in his meeting with the home representative, whose form has been far from exemplary in recent weeks after he crashed out in his last two tournaments.
Bookmakers support my thesis, offering a rate of 1.66 for our representative, while the American’s odds of success are quoted at 2.20. We all know that these preliminary forecasts cannot be a guarantee for such a development of events, but we have nothing else to do but cross our fingers that this time the expectations will come true and Dimitrov will continue his rise. You will again be able to watch the match on the usual links in Tennis.bg!
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