Jenson Brooksby’s all-red kit was fitting on Thursday, because the #NextGenATP American is red-hot. The 20-year-old upset second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Citi Open.
This is Brooksby’s first ATP 500 event, but the Californian has shown poise throughout his impressive run. The World No. 130 walked on court to face the Canadian star without a Top 50 win on his resumé, but he emphatically changed that in front of his home crowd after one hour and 25 minutes.
Brooksby won three ATP Challenger Tour titles earlier this year, and he has not stopped there. In his first ATP Tour event last month in Newport, he made the final, where only former World No. 5 Kevin Anderson was able to stop him.
But Brooksby has improved weekly, and that has shown in Washington, where the wild card upset Anderson in the first round. Frances Tiafoe, whom Brooksby beat in straight sets in the second round, called his countryman’s game “super unorthodox. Obviously everything he does is pretty strange.” Even so, it works, and continues to frustrate the world’s best players, including Auger-Aliassime.
Felix is at a career-high No. 15 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and fresh off a run to his first major quarter-final at Wimbledon. But Brooksby did not allow the aggressive Canadian to gain confidence in Washington. Auger-Aliassime came out misfiring in the early stages of the match, and his opponent never allowed him to find a rhythm by playing solid tennis with plenty of variety.
The American is rock-solid, making few unforced errors. And by changing the pace of rallies with his deadly drop shot and surprise direction changes, Brooksby prevented the powerful Canadian from controlling play.
The big-serving second seed did not hit an ace in the match, and he double-faulted to relinquish the deciding break in the second set. Brooksby never showed any nerves, and after Auger-Aliassime missed a final backhand return, the home favourite pumped his fist and shouted “Come on!”