Jenson Brooksby wasn’t supposed to play in the Citi Open at all. Now the child is among the last four of his first ATP 500 event.
Brooksby defeated 11th seeded John Millman from Australia in the hard court tournament on Friday 6-1, 6-2 in just 67 minutes. This makes the 20-year-old from Sacramento, California, the lowest semi-finalist in Washington since John Isner in 2007.
“I don’t wonder myself… (and) people now know what to expect in general. But I mean, I think I still surprise them, “said Brooksby, who started the year outside the top 300 and started the week 130th after reaching the finals on grass in Newport, Rhode Island last month, and now you are ready to get into the top 100. “But I mean, I know it’s very doable and I’m glad I did it so far.”
He has not lost a set in four wins – three against seeded opponents, including No. 2 Felix Auger-Aliassime and No. 16 Frances Tiafoe, and another against the two-time Grand Slam runner-up Kevin Anderson.
No less a tennis expert than Andy Murray has taken note of Brooksby’s progress. The three-time major champion and former No. 1 tweeted, “Jenson Brooksby is the kind of player I love to see,” praising his “diversity” and “high tennis IQ.”
Next comes another settled and even younger opponent: No. 5 Jannik Sinner, a 19-year-old Italian who defeated Steve Johnson of the USA 6-4, 6-2.
The other semi-final will be the 2015 champion, Kei Nishikori, against Mackie McDonald or Denis Kudla.
Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up, advanced on Friday night with a 6-3, 7-5 win over number 14 seed Lloyd Harris.
Anderson and Kudla originally received wildcard entries in Washington; The 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, who lost to Harris on Thursday night, was another award winner.
So Brooksby was down on the Challenger Tour last week in Lexington, Kentucky, when he found out Anderson and Kudla allowed Anderson and Kudla to climb into the bracket based on their leaderboard and wild card invitation at the last minute.
Brooksby flew to the nation’s capital and showed a game that had a bit of everything – reflex returns, a top-notch backhand, drop shots, an improving serve – backed by a confident approach.
He likes to say that his greatest strength is not having any weaknesses.
“I came out motivated and ready to compete with my bum here and be consistent as always,” he said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to prove my level and going further out and competing.”
This was the second time the American faced Millman, who defeated a 17-year-old Brooksby in straight sets in the first round of the 2018 US Open. Millman would beat Roger Federer on the way to the quarterfinals.
“I’m a late breeder so most of the time I think I’ve improved a lot physically,” said the 6-foot-4 Brooksby, describing himself as “just a little guy” during that first fight against Millman. “Now I think my game just got better. I’ve gotten stronger mentally and definitely more physical. So it’s definitely a completely different ball game for me in general than it was a few years ago. “