Brandon Nakashima dominates first match of Next Gen Finals

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MILAN — Favorite Carlos Alcaraz of Spain and Brandon Nakashima of the United States dominated the opening session of the Next Gen Finals.

Alcaraz took just 75 minutes to beat Holger Rune of Denmark 4-3 (6), 4-2, 4-0, seeing out the group match with a crosscourt volley to take the final game and set to love.

The 18-year-old Alcaraz has moved more than 100 places up the rankings this season to No. 32 and reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

Earlier, Nakashima also took less than 90 minutes to beat Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina 4-1, 3-4 (3), 4-1, 4-0.

Nakashima, ranked 63rd in the world, broke serve four times and won when the 91st-ranked Cerundolo returned a serve into the net.

All four players are in Group A of the eight-man tournament, which has a round-robin format. The top two in both groups qualify for Friday’s semifinals. The final is on Saturday.

In Group B, Sebastian Korda of the U.S. plays Hugo Gaston of France in the first match of the evening session, followed by home favorite Lorenzo Musetti against Sebastian Baez of Argentina.

It is the fourth edition of the tournament in Milan for the top 21-and-under players on the ATP Tour. The tournament was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ATP Finals will also be in Italy, in Turin next week.

There are different rules at the Next Gen Finals, including on-court coaching, no-Ad scoring, medical timeout limits, and Hawk-Eye making all the line calls.

The most drastic change is the shorter set, where the first to four games takes the set, with a tiebreak at 3-3.

This year there are also shorter warm-ups, ensuring matches begin just one minute after the players enter the court, while bathroom breaks are timed to three minutes.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.

Ruud loses, Kyrgios wins at Japan Open

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TOKYO — Top-seeded Casper Ruud lost and Nick Kyrgios won at the Japan Open.

Ruud, who reached the final at both the French Open and the U.S. Open this year, lost to Jaume Munar 6-3, 6-3.

Kyrgios, who lost in the Wimbledon final, defeated Tseng Chun-hsin 6-3, 6-1 to reach the round of 16. He will next face Kamil Majchrzak, who beat Sho Shimabukuro 7-6 (2), 6-2.

The victory for Kyrgios came on the same day that his lawyer asked an Australian court to dismiss assault charges against him on mental health grounds. Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3.

The 27-year-old Kyrgios will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December. The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.