Next Gen ATP Finals: Sebastian Korda and Carlos Alcaraz will face off in the Next Gen final after convincing victories
In a match that went the distance, the Floridian Korda overcame the Californian Brandon Nakashima 4-3 2-4 1-4 4-2 4-2, with an injury scare also thrown in to add more drama to an already crazy match. Following him, Spaniard Alcaraz was swifter in his dismantling of opponent Sebastian Baez; 4-2, 4-1, 4-2 the final score.
Sebastian Korda and Carlos Alcaraz will meet in the Next Gen ATP World Tour final in Milan after both won tough semi-finals on Friday evening.
In a match that went the distance, the Floridian Korda overcame the Californian Brandon Nakashima 4-3 2-4 1-4 4-2 4-2. Following him, Spaniard Alcaraz was swifter in his dismantling of opponent Sebastian Baez winning 4-2 4-1 4-2.
The second seed won the first set via a tiebreak, edging out his compatriot with some heavy hitting early on, before collecting a handy three points on the bounce to take first blood.
MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 12: Sebastian Korda of USA celebrates victory in his match against Brandon Nakashima of USA in the semi finals during Day Four of the Next Gen ATP Finals at Palalido Stadium on November 12, 2021 in Milan, Italy.
Image credit: Getty Images
For what Nakashima lacked in power in comparison to his 6'5" opponent, he made up for with intelligence in abundance - he brought the match back on level terms in the second, forcing Korda into silly, unforced errors, feeding into the final set point that was hashed out of play by a rash Korda backhand.
An issues in the left groin of the big serving Korda troubled the 21-year-old as the match wore on, and Nakashima took full advantage, noticing his opponent's clear discomfort across the net.
Grimacing after landing from service delivery and after particularly long points, Korda would start coming forwards more, looking to shorten points. But Nakashima would pick him off, forcing him into awkward movements and luring him into the net and back again with clever groundstrokes off both wings to speed into a healthy two-sets-to-one lead: 4-1 the score in the third.
One would usually expect to see the trainer called when a player is in pain and struggling, but Korda, realising the magnitude of the match at hand, rose to his feet after the restart like a new man. His groin pain was seemingly gone, as his first set form returned, and he began to overpower Nakashima again, pummelling winners away.
MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 12: Brandon Nakashima of USA in action in his match against Sebastian Korda of USA in the semi finals during Day Four of the Next Gen ATP Finals at Palalido Stadium on November 12, 2021 in Milan, Italy.
Image credit: Getty Images
It was classic Korda to finish off both the fourth and the deciding fifth with winners - a backhand that steamrollered through the court to bring the match back to 2-2, and a slightly more fortuitous net cord to round off proceedings and see the second seed into the final by the skin of his teeth.
In the other semi-final the number one seed Carlos Alcaraz was two sets to the good inside 40 minutes against Sebastian Baez, despite some resistance in the third, eventually prevailing 4-2 4-1 4-2.
The win for the rising Spanish star was built on a platform of fluid groundstrokes and the silky 18-year-old will face the powerful American in the final as the top two seeds go head-to-head in what should prove to be a highly enticing match-up.