10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Jenson Brooksby Surprises Second-Seeded Casper Ruud in Australian Open Stunner

Jenson Brooksby of the United States reacts in their round two singles match against Casper Ruud of Norway during day four of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

US Open finalist Casper Ruud had seen enough, but Jenson Brooksby continued to confound.

On the full stretch in the final game, Brooksby slide a slice one-handed backhand down the line that stuck to the sideline like metal to a magnet. The audacious strike reverberated leaving chair umpire Carlos Bernardes doing a double take and Ruud dropping his Yonex racquet in disbelief.

Dispensing brilliant shotmaking, Brooksby befuddled the second-seeded Ruud in an Australian Open second-round stunner 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2 scoring the biggest win of his career in creative style.

A day after fellow Northern California native Mackenzie McDonald shocked top-seeded and hobbled Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in a second-round shocker, a resilient Brooksby repelled Ruud joining an American assault on the AO draw. Both 14-time Roland Garros champion Nadal and 2022 Roland Garros runner-up Ruud arrived in Melbourne with a shot to rise to world No. 1.

Blasting his backhand crosscourt into Ruud’s weaker backhand wing to create space for bold backhand bolts down the line, Brooksby made the second seed look second best for much of this match.

It is Brooksby’s first Top 5 win in a Grand Slam and the second Top 5 victory of his career after he dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas at Indian Wells last March.

“It feels amazing,” Brooksby told ESPN’s Darren Cahiil afterward. ” I’ve always been someone that loves atmospheres like that playing in those atmospheres it’s always my greatest experiences I can have in life. I thought I was playing at a good level. I felt pretty good coming in. I was just proud of my mental resolve out there.”

Guzzling pickle juice on changeovers to combat cramps, Brooksby showed deep thirst for the battle—and fierce competitive spirt.

Squandering three match points serving at 5-3 in the third set, Brooksby saw Ruud flip the script and run through the tiebreaker to force a fourth set.

In a head-scratching decision Ruud may well rue, he opted to leave the court for a clothing change. That near 15-minute break not only stalled Ruud’s momentum it tossed a recovery lifeline to Brooksby, who looked more weary at that point, affording the American time to reset.

Watching the eclectic Brooksby is fun; playing him is frustating Ruud said.

“It’s frustrating when you feel like you have the momentum in a rally, and then a player pulls out a shot like he did in the last game, for example, where he does that slice down the line, on the line, which is the only shot he can play and he’s able to do it,” Ruud said. “It’s frustrating and annoying at the same time, but at the same time I gave him credits, because he stayed in there and fought well. Physically it was a tough match. It was close to four hours and four sets. He fought through well and didn’t seem to be affected by the duration of the match.”

A year ago, Ruud finished ninth on the ATP Tour in service games held (85 percent), but Brooksby challenged the Norwegian’s serve consistently today. Brooksby converted nine of 13 break-point chances and won 31 of 50 points played on Ruud’s second serve.

“I almost gave myself a heart attack too; those moments are obviously where the nerves will pop in,” Brooksby said of the three blown match points. “Those things will happen sometimes. I think it’s really important I’ve responded from those poorly in the past.

“I think really from training and your mentality how you’ve trained will show how tough you are in moments like that. I just told myself to keep playing the same strategy, not change anything, just keep getting after it, just keep chugging after it. I was able to really turn it around there in the fourth.”

Andy Roddick, who beat Juan Carlos Ferrero for the 2003 US Open crown, is the last American man to raise a Grand Slam singles title. Americans are making a push in Melbourne this week with a combined 13 American men and women into the third round.

In his AO debut, Brooksby will try to sustain this roll against fellow American Tommy Paul with a spot in the fourth round at stake.

World No. 35 Paul out-dueled 30th-seeded Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 2-6, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 in three hour, 50-minute battle. Paul defeated Brooksby in their lone prior meeting in Cincinnati.

“I think it’s gonna be another good physical match and he’s been playing well too,” Brooksby said of Paul. “He’s a good athlete. It’s gonna be another good battle I’m excited to keep going on.”