But it was back-to-back quarterfinals appearances with Thompson on the other side of the net. The Australian came out in a fury, winning 45-0 quickly, but then Nakashima evened up the set by forcing errors from Thompson.
It wasn’t until the fifth game that either player broke serve, as Nakashima won the advantage point. The point came in the midst of a three-point win streak.
Thompson didn’t go down easily and put pressure on the teenager. He forced a tiebreaker, but Nakashima was able to secure the game point as Thompson let out a bellow in frustration.
“He comes back and fights really hard,” Nakashima said of Thompson. “It’s always tough playing someone two weeks in a row, even if you win the first week or lose.”
In the second set, the two went back to work and neither wanted to give up serve. Eventually with the set tied at five game points apiece, Nakashima utilized some nifty shots to break and defeat Thompson in just under two hours.
The 19-year-old will have to stay focused as he prepares for another semifinal Saturday and what he hopes will end with his second consecutive ATP final Sunday night.
“I’m just glad to get through,” Nakashima said. “It’s obviously going to be tough being fatigued a little bit after these long weeks, but on the other hand it is always a good thing to be playing at the end of the week. I think it’s just managing my body and recovering my body properly.”
The second quarterfinal pit two Americans against each other, with Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka in a three-set marathon in which all three sets went to tiebreakers. The match between the two 23-year-olds, each ranked in the top 50, lasted two hours and 52 minutes.
Fritz was able to win the first and third sets, and neither player won a breakpoint. There were moments where Opelka’s emotions got to him, and Fritz was able to capitalize on serving more than his friend.
Friday afternoon was the fifth time the two have played since 2019, with Fritz winning four of them.
After the match, Fritz experienced a good bit of cramping and said that his Friday night and Saturday morning will consist of a lot of food, ice baths and stretching.
Saturday’s semifinal will be Fritz’s fourth of 2021 and he has yet to make a final. Despite the past shortcomings, he plans to treat Saturday’s semifinal the same as any other match.
“If I start thinking about that, it’s going to affect my play too much,” Fritz said. “I’m going to try and take it like any other match, not put much thought into it and go out there and want it as much as I wanted this match.”
Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori defeated Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in straight sets to set up a Nakashima-Ruusuvuori match in Saturday’s first semifinal Saturday, starting not before 3 p.m. On Saturday, not before 7 p.m., Fritz will face former Georgia Bulldog John Isner, who outlasted Australian Christopher O’Connell 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4 late Friday night.
In doubles action, Thompson will join American Steve Johnson to face fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios and American Jack Sock Saturday.