Nakashima tops ex-finalist Isner at Indian Wells

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Brandon Nakashima took advantage of two double-faults by John Isner in an error-filled game to collect the match’s only service break and went on to reach the second round at the BNP Paribas Open with a 7-6 (7), 6-3 victory in the all-American contest Wednesday.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was in the stands as play got started at the year’s first Masters 1000 event, a combined tournament for women and men.

Nakashima, a 21-year-old from San Diego, saved one set point for Isner, who is 37, en route to grabbing the opening tiebreaker. And Nakashima, who won the ATP Next Gen Finals last year, broke to lead 4-2 in the second set after nearly 1 1/2 hours of play, taking his four points in that game via two double-faults, one forehand by Isner that found the net tape and didn’t make it over, and another that sailed long.

In all, Isner, the 2012 runner-up at Indian Wells, double-faulted seven times, part of his total of 25 unforced errors — 18 more than Nakashima. Next up for the 48th-ranked Nakashima is the tough task of facing 2022 US Open champion and former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, who is on a 14-match winning streak and won the past three tournaments he entered.

That run of success includes a win over Novak Djokovic, the 22-time Grand Slam champion not in the field at Indian Wells because he can’t travel to the United States as a foreign citizen not vaccinated against COVID-19. The player Djokovic shares the record with for most majors won by a man, Rafael Nadal, also isn’t in the desert; he has been sidelined since injuring his left hip flexor at the Australian Open.

Medvedev, like other seeded players, received a first-round bye.

On Wednesday night, Gael Monfils — a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist — was scheduled to compete for the first time since August, facing Jordan Thompson. Monfils, 36, hasn’t played since a foot injury last August.

In other Day 1 action, Evgeniya Rodina, a 34-year-old who is ranked 427th and had played just one tour-level match in 2023, ousted 68th-ranked Alizé Cornet 6-2, 7-5; 67th-ranked Wang Xinyu beat 37th-ranked Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-1; wild-card entry Dayana Yastremska defeated Anna Bondar 6-3, 6-4; Aliaksandra Sasnovich got past Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 7-6 (5); Anna Blinkova beat Ann Li 6-1, 6-2; and Linda Noskova defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6 (7), 6-1.

In men’s matches, Marcos Giron, who won an NCAA singles title for UCLA, eliminated Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 7-5; Ugo Humbert beat Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-2, 7-6 (6); Jason Kubler edged Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 7-6 (4); and Oscar Otte defeated Laslo Djere 6-3, 7-5.

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