Jack Sock (USA) vs. Brandon Nakashima (USA)
Head-to-Head: first meeting
The Americans account for an amazing 4/4 of the Indian Wells men’s semifinalists, with stellar performances from the local contingent across the board. First up in a highly anticipated semifinal matchup, Jack Sock will meet Brandon Nakashima with the Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells finals on the line. While both Sock and Nakashima hail from the United States, the similarities between the two competitors stop there.
While Sock is an ATP Tour veteran who’s reached a career-high ranking of World No. 8 and holds three Grand Slam Doubles titles, Nakashima is an 18-year-old rising star who has spent more time in college than he has in the professional ranks. It’s a fascinating style clash that will surely have fans on their edge of their seats over the weekend in Tennis Paradise.
Sock has defeated three consecutive higher ranked opponents to make the semifinals, including tournament No. 1 seed Ugo Humbert, Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy and American Denis Kudla. Looking to reassert himself as a force on the ATP Tour, Sock will have to overcome the tremendous momentum that is powering the young Nakashima.
Nakashima is firing on all cylinders this week in the desert, as the 18-year-old American has been in-form during his own trifecta of upsets with victories over No. 7 Yuichi Sugita, No. 10 Salvatore Caruso and No. 14 Marcos Giron.
The Southern California native began last September at No. 942 in the ATP Tour Rankings and now sits at a career-high of No. 290, continuing to showcase why many tennis pundits have pegged him as a future star in the sport.
Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Mitchell Krueger (USA)
Head-to-Head: first meeting
Next in the American vs. American action, World No. 75 Steve Johnson will face off against fellow countryman Mitchell Krueger with a spot in the finals on the line.
While the pair have never met on court before, each competitor is having a week to remember in the desert. Competing in his second consecutive Oracle Challenger Series event, Johnson will look to claim his second ATP Tour Challenger title of 2020.
On Friday, he faced off against fellow countryman Noah Rubin. While Rubin was in the midst of an incredible week in the desert including a shocking second round upset of pre-tournament favorite Lucas Pouille, Johnson was simply too much for him. The four-time ATP Tour titlist was dominant in his service games, delivering eight aces and winning a staggering 86% (19/22) of his first service opportunities.
“I thought I served the best I have so far in the tournament, but I still have plenty of things to improve on which is a great opportunity for me tomorrow. I’ve got a chance to be the last man standing, which is all I can ask for at any tournament I play.”
Johnson knows it’ll be a very different matchup when he faces off against upstart American Mitchell Krueger on Saturday. Krueger is in his third straight Oracle Challenger Series semifinal, after advancing to the same stage with an impressive performance at January’s Newport Beach event and November’s tournament in Houston.
On Friday afternoon, he put together a masterful performance in the desert by upsetting World No. 97 Frenchman Gregoire Barrere 6-4, 7-6(5). It wasn’t the Americans first surprise victory of the week, as he also shocked tournament No. 4 seed Radu Albot in the second round.
The 26-year-old is searching for his first career ATP Tour title and has the perfect opportunity to make the biggest moment of his career happen right here in the desert.