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American wave rides on as Brooksby takes out No 2 seed Ruud

Jenson Brooksby won against Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 on Thursday night and will face American Tommy Paul in the next round

Jenson Brooksby Australian Open 2023 Jenson Brooksby Australian Open 2023 || AI / Reuters / Panoramic
Australian Open •Second round • completed
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The first week of the 2023 Australian Open has a decidedly American flavour.

American Jenson Brooksby, a Northern California native, toppled Norwegian Casper Ruud, the second seed, 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 to move into the third round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Thursday night.

His victory was one of myriad impressive results turned in by the American men over the first four days of the Happy Slam. Already seven Americans have reached the third round, and there is a possibility that five more could squeeze through on Thursday.

“I gave it my all, but in the fourth set especially wasn’t enough.”

No 2 seed Casper Ruud

American disruptors making history

Brooksby’s upset of third-ranked Ruud – his biggest career win by ranking and his second top-5 win – comes 24 hours after top-seeded Rafael Nadal was knocked out of the draw by American Mackenzie McDonald in second-round action on Wednesday in Melbourne. Not since 1994 have two Americans taken out the top two seeds in a men’s singles draw at a Grand Slam, when Jim Courier and Aaron Krickstein knocked out the No 1 and No 2 seeds.

“A lot of Americans doing really, really well right now,” Brooksby said. “And we’re all pushing each other and I’m just looking forward to the next one.”

Brooksby, ranked No 39, will face American Tommy Paul in an all-American clash for a spot in the round of16 next.

Brooksby stayed calm after squandering three match points

It looked like Brooksby was headed to a straight set victory but Ruud mounted a late push, saving three match points late in the third set and coming through a tiebreak to force a fourth set.

If it was to be a sliding doors moment for the Norwegian, Brooksby did not get the memo. He settled in quickly in the fourth and erected an insurmountable lead, punishing the two-time Grand Slam finalist in the longer rallies as he sailed through the fourth set to claim the victory.

“Just keep bringing my level,” Brooksby said on court. “I thought I was playing really strong and I just wanted to not let that lose my focus out there.

“First and foremost Casper’s a warrior. I knew it’d be a great battle out there. I was pretty confident with my level and just wanted to have fun competing out there and see what could happen – I was just really proud of my mental resolve there after the third set battle didn’t go my way to this just turn it around.”

A stunning debut

Brooksby is making his first appearance at the Australian Open. The 22-year-old missed last year’s event when he picked up Covid just prior to departing for Australia. He reached the third round at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, and will seek to match his best Grand Slam performance (2021 US Open, round of 16), against his compatriot Paul in the third round.

Brooksby was able to dominate the longer rallies, winning 55 of 80 of the points that lasted nine strokes or longer, including 13 of 15 such points in the final set.

He hit 50 winners against 48 unforced errors, while Ruud mustered just 33 winners against 55 unforced errors and was broken nine times.

Ruud – I gave it my all

“I gave it my all, but in the fourth set especially wasn’t enough,” a disappointed Ruud told reporters. “The first two sets were sort of closer, but I ended up getting broken a bit too many times. So that’s something that was maybe the key to part of the reason why I lost today. I didn’t serve precisely enough, and against Jenson, with a great returner that he is of the ball, he’s gonna make it tough for you if you don’t serve well.”

The 22-year-old American won against Australian Christopher O’Connell (3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2) in the previous round.

In the first round, Ruud, ranked No 3, defeated Czech Tomas Machac (6-3, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-3).

Melbourne (Grand Slam), other second-round results (Melbourne Park, hard, USD 24.297.942, most recent results first):

  • Andy Murray vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
  • Enzo Couacaud vs. Novak Djokovic
  • Adrian Mannarino vs. Alex De Minaur
  • Brandon Holt vs. Roberto Bautista Agut
  • Maxime Cressy vs. Holger Rune
  • Grigor Dimitrov vs. Laslo Djere
  • Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Benjamin Bonzi
  • Michael Mmoh vs. Alexander Zverev: thursday
  • Taylor Fritz vs. Alexei Popyrin: thursday
  • Denis Kudla vs. Ugo Humbert: thursday
  • J.J. Wolf beat Diego Schwartzman (23): 6-1, 6-4, 6-4
  • Ben Shelton beat Nicolas Jarry (Q): 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3), 7-5
  • Andrey Rublev (5) beat Emil Ruusuvuori: 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-3
  • Tommy Paul beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (30): 6-2, 2-6, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4
  • Daniel Evans (25) beat Jeremy Chardy: 6-4, 6-4, 6-1
  • Cameron Norrie (11) beat Constant Lestienne: 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3
  • Jiri Lehecka beat Christopher Eubanks (WC): 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
  • Tallon Griekspoor beat Botic Van De Zandschulp (32): 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
  • Sebastian Korda (29) beat Yosuke Watanuki (Q): 6-2, 7-5, 6-4
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) beat Rinky Hijikata (WC): 6-3, 6-0, 6-2
  • Hubert Hurkacz (10) beat Lorenzo Sonego: 3-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
  • Denis Shapovalov (20) beat Taro Daniel: 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-5
  • Francisco Cerundolo (28) beat Corentin Moutet: 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5
  • Yoshihito Nishioka (31) beat Dalibor Svrcina (Q): 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
  • Daniil Medvedev (7) beat John Millman (WC): 7-5, 6-2, 6-2
  • Marton Fucsovics beat Lloyd Harris: 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
  • Karen Khachanov (18) beat Jason Kubler (WC): 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
  • Frances Tiafoe (16) beat Juncheng Shang (Q): 6-4, 6-4, 6-1
  • Mackenzie McDonald beat Rafael Nadal (1): 6-4, 6-4, 7-5
  • Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) beat Alex Molcan: 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
  • Jannik Sinner (15) beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry: 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
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