After an entertaining week of tennis in Georgia, just two men remain standing at the ATP Atlanta Open. One is a five-time former champion at this event and one of the most decorated American players of this era. The other is a young gun seeking his first title. But will it be John Isner or Brandon Nakashima who lifts the trophy after Sunday’s final?
ATP Atlanta Final Prediction
Brandon Nakashima vs John Isner
Head-to-head: Nakashima 1-0 Isner
Isner, who has won 15 ATP-level titles and 445 matches on the main tour, has the weight of experience on his side heading into this match, particularly because the ATP Atlanta Open has been a very happy hunting ground for him. He has played some fine tennis on his return to action in Georgia, picking up wins over J.J. Wolf, Jack Sock, Christopher O’Connell and fifth seed Taylor Fritz to reach his ninth final at this tournament, although he was taken the distance in all but one of those matches.
However, recent history is not on his side. He has played Nakashima just once previously with that match coming just over a week ago in the semifinals in Los Cabos and it was the younger of the two Americans who won, with Nakashima emerging a 7-5 6-4 winner. Nakashima went on to lose the final in Los Cabos to Cameron Norrie in comprehensive fashion, but it was a fine week for the 19-year-old all the same and he has maintained that solid form so far in Atlanta.
He opened his campaign with a 6-1 6-7 6-4 win over his compatriot Trent Bryde and he backed that up by upsetting the top-seeded Milos Raonic 5-7 6-3 7-6. Nakashima then scored a solid straight-sets win over Jordan Thompson before beating fellow young gun Emil Ruusuvuori from a set down to reach his second final in as many weeks. Having won just four games against Norrie in Los Cabos, he will surely be hoping to be more competitive this time around.
But having already played in one tour-level final should help him in that regard. Without taking anything away from Norrie’s performance in the ATP Los Cabos Open final, there can be little doubt that Nakashima found himself somewhat overawed by the occasion. It would be a surprise if that happened to him again in Atlanta. Particularly because he will be able to draw on the confidence of having beaten Isner in straight sets in Los Cabos.
But the 6’11” Isner is a formidable opponent in Atlanta, with the hot conditions and high-bouncing courts seeming to make his serve even more dangerous than usual. He also has plenty of good memories to draw upon, having already lifted this title five times. This should be a close match and breaks of serve will be at a premium. But although Nakashima beat Isner last week, it’s hard to pick against the big man at an event he has won so many times. He should have just about enough to claim title number six.
Prediction: Isner in 3
Embed from Getty Images