Sweet Revenge For Brooksby Against Anderson At Citi Open

Jenson Brooksby (photo: @citiopen/Instagram)

WASHINGTON, August 3, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

ATP Tour veteran Kevin Anderson and wild card Jenson Brooksby met two weeks ago in the title match of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I., on grass. Anderson, who had accepted a wild card into the main draw, defeated the ATP Tour-newcomer Brooksby, 7-6 (8), 6-4, in two hours and 11 minutes to garner his seventh career ATP Tour singles title and first on grass.

The Newport title lifted the former World No. 5 Anderson’s ranking high enough to secure direct entry into not only the upcoming US Open but also other tournaments, too. It was also a good lesson learned for Brooksby, who showed a lot of promise in Rhode Island by reaching his first tour-level final.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon at the ATP 500 Citi Open on a hard-court surface in Washington, D.C. The 75th-ranked Anderson, who now resides in Gulf Stream, Fla., and was a 2017 finalist in the nation’s capital city, took on the 20-year-old wild card Brooksby from Sacramento, Calif., whose ranking shot up after his in-form week on grass.

This time, though, the 130th-ranked Brooksby gave a lesson in persistence to his tennis elder, the 35-year-old Anderson, during their one-hour and 49-minute first-round match on Stadium Court, which the youngster won 7-6 (4), 6-3.

First, Brooksby saved a set point in the opener at 5-6 (40-ad), then went on to garner the set in a tie break 7-4 by winning the final six points. Later, he matched Anderson stroke for stroke in the second set and eventually broke the six-foot-seven-inch South African to go ahead 5-3. In the ensuing game, Brooksby put away the opening-round victory on his first match-point opportunity when Anderson sailed a second-shot return well beyond the baseline. Career head-to-head between Brooksby and Anderson is level at 1-1.

Despite Anderson’s 10 aces and 30 winners, Brooksby countered with 13 winners and committed just 15 unforced errors. He displayed a steady demeanor and took advantage of Anderson’s 29 unforced errors during their rematch.

“I was really proud of myself to be able to get it back and win multiple [points] in a row to get the first set,” said Brooksby, a former junior national champion who earlier this year won three Challenger Tour crowns. “I kept my foot on the gas pedal, starting returning better, got the break. Happy to close it out in straights.”

Brooksby won 80 percent (41 of 51) of his first-serve points and saved both break points he faced from Anderson. He outpointed his opponent 81-70 to improve his tour-level win-loss record to 5-3 in his Citi Open debut. The loss dropped Anderson’s 2021 record to 10-8.

“I’ve had a great year,” said Brooksby, whose career trajectory definitely seems headed in the right direction. “I just didn’t play any matches last year. First couple of tournaments were rough but I stayed positive; I got my game better. I got all-around better. Hopefully, I’ll keep improving week by week.”

Next, Brooksby will oppose Maryland native and No. 16 seed Frances Tiafoe, who is just back from competing for the United States in the Tokyo Olympics, in a featured Stadium Court second-round match Tuesday evening.

Monday’s Citi Open results

Tuesday’s Citi Open order of play

Around the Citi Open

Play began Monday in the 52nd edition of the Citi Open at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center under partly cloudy skies and a unseasonably mild summer temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) with nine first-round singles and one first-round doubles match.

The afternoon’s first match on Stadium Court featured Olympians Tommy Paul of the United States, ranked 55th, and No. 113 Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia. Both competed in last week’s the Tokyo Olympic Tennis Event.

Galan won 81 percent of his first-serve points and took advantage of three breaks of Paul’s serves to string together a 6-4, 6-3 victory in an hour and 25 minutes for his first ATP 500 victory. The win advanced him into the second round against No. 8 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States.

“Beating Tommy is never easy,” Galan said during an on-court interview after his victory. “He’s a really complete player. I’m happy I was able to win.”

Galan was asked to describe his recent Olympic experience. He said: “It was really special. I always enjoy playing for my country. I won only one match, but it was a great experience and I hope I can represent [Colombia] again.”

Indeed, Galan defeated Eygpt’s Mohamed Safwat, 7-5, 6-1, before losing in the second round to eventual-gold medalist Alexander Zverev of Germany, 6-2, 6-2.

Also advancing to the second round in the Citi Open 48-player singles draw:

• No. 67 Kei Nishikori of Japan, the 2015 Citi Open champion, hit 18 winners to beat No. 68 Sam Querrey of the United States, 6-4, 6-3, in one hour and 25 minutes. He saved all five break points he faced while breaking Querrey three times in six tries. Next, Nishikori will play No. 9 seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

• No. 86 Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania defeated 174th-ranked American qualifier Mitchell Kruger, 7-6 (4), 6-2, by outpointing him 75-56 during their 93-minute match. Next, Berankis will play No. 15 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia Tuesday afternoon.

• No. 88 Andreas Seppi of Italy beat No. 123 Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, in two hours and four minutes in a matchup of unseeded players. It’s the third time this season that Seppi has come back to win after losing the opening set. Next, he will play No. 2 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, whom he owns a 1-0 head-to-head record against, on Tuesday afternoon.

• No. 64 Marcos Giron of the United States defeated 157th-ranked qualifier Ilya Marchenko of Ukraine, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1), by hitting 10 aces and outpointing his opponent 112-98. Next, Giron will face No. 7 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain on Tuesday afternoon.

• In an all-Belarus first-round battle, No. 65 Ilya Ivashka defeated No. 78 Egor Gerasimov, 7-5, 6-4, outpointing his compatriot 76-67 to advance against No. 4 seed Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday.

Vasek Pospisil of Canada rallied to defeat 165th-ranked qualifier Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, to set up a second-round meeting with No. 12 seed Sebastian Korda of the United States on Tuesday afternoon. The 61st-ranked Pospisil hit 10 aces and broke Gomez’s serve five times.

• Wild card Jack Sock of the United States, ranked 192nd, advanced to a second-round meeting on Wednesday evening with World No. 3 and top seed Rafael Nadal, after his opponent, No. 56 Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, was forced to retire in the second set due to a calf injury. Sock lost the first set 7-6 (3) and led 4-0 in the second set when the match was halted after an hour and 41 minutes.

By the numbers

The top three players in the NextGen ATP Race to Milan – 1. Jannik Sinner of Italy, 2. Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, and 3. Sebastian Korda of the United States – are all playing in the Citi Open this week. Korda is competing for the first time since joining Bjorn Borg and Mikael Pernfors as the only men in the Open Era to reach the fourth round in debuts at Roland Garros (2020) and Wimbledon (2021).

“Quotable …”

“I think everyone’s human. Everyone’s going through a lot of things. Yeah, I mean, I think people being open about it, talking about their experiences is definitely big. Letting the fans and pretty much everyone else know what’s going on with all the other athletes. Everyone is going through things.

“We matter just as much as the next person, as the ordinary person. We’re human. We’re going to have mood swings, personal things go on that may affect our day to day. Being open about it, talking about it, I think is huge.”

Frances Tiafoe of the United States, on the importance of athletes speaking out about mental health issues that affect them.

“He’s young, good physical look, good serve, good shots from the baseline. I think he’s a great guy, complete player.

“I always believe since I saw him play that he’s going to have a chance to be one of the best players of the world. … I think he has all the things that ne needs to be a definitely top guy. … If you ask me, he’s going to be a great one.”

Rafael Nadal, during Sunday’s media day interview speaking about Sebastian Korda. Nadal shared a practice hit with Korda on Saturday evening.