Just 15 days ago, Anderson defeated Brooksby in straight sets in the Hall of Fame Open final. But this time, it was the 20-year-old wild card who won the biggest points to advance to the second round in Washington after one hour and 50 minutes.
“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,” Brooksby said. “I kept my foot on the gas pedal, started returning better, got the break. Happy to close it out in straights.”
This is just the fifth tour-level main draw of Brooksby’s career, but the World No. 130 competed like he has been on this stage many times before. The three-time ATP Challenger Tour Titlist saved the two break points he faced and capitalised on one of his four opportunities to triumph.
At the start of the season, Brooksby was outside the Top 300 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. But based on the skills and resilience he showed against two-time major finalist Anderson, the American is closing on the Top 100.
The critical moment came at the end of the first set. Brooksby, who was the player on the back foot more often in the early going, saved a set point on his serve at 5-6 by attacking with his forehand. Then from 1/4 down in the ensuing tie-break, he won six consecutive points — using the drop shot on several occasions — to take the opener and seize the momentum.
“I was definitely happy with how I ended the first set. Obviously two weeks ago in Newport, I had a lot of chances to break, and also in the tie-break,” Brooksby said. “Didn’t get it. That was definitely disappointing.”
Anderson won a first-set tie-break in Newport and used that advantage to pull through the rest of the match, but it was Brooksby who did so in Washington. The Californian broke for a 5-3 lead in the second set and did not relinquish his lead, setting a clash against 16th seed and home favourite Frances Tiafoe. Anderson, who made the 2017 final at the Citi Open, had not competed at the ATP 500 since that edition.
In other action, Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan defeated American Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-3 to set a battle against one of Paul’s best friends: eighth seed Reilly Opelka. In the same quarter of the draw, Italian Andreas Seppi rallied past Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to earn a match against second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, whom he beat at Roland Garros this year.
Did You Know?
In Newport, Brooksby made his first ATP Tour quarter-final, semi-final and championship match on his grass-court debut. The 20-year-old became the second-youngest finalist in the Hall of Fame Open’s history, trailing only 19-year-old Greg Rusedski (1993).