When Jenson Brooksby walks onto Rod Laver Arena to take on World No. 3 Casper Ruud on Thursday at the Australian Open, he’ll have to battle if he is to earn his second Top 5 win.

Thankfully, the American will be ready to do just that.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Brooksby told ATPTour.com. “I’ve been working on getting tougher mentally. We put in more hours in the gym as well with the strength and also with the cardio too. I lost a little bit of that toughness last year from my training. So I think that’s something that is going to be key.

“I am really starting to push harder in some areas and I feel like I’m in a good spot to, mentally and especially physically, go well and push myself to the limit.”

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Brooksby gave fans a glimpse into the competitor he is at the 2021 US Open, where he pushed Novak Djokovic to four sets in a physical fourth-round encounter in New York. The American gave a good account of himself against the former World No. 1, hiding the face that it was just the seventh tour-level event Brooksby had played in his career.

Since then, the World No. 39 has gained further experience. He reached tour-level finals in Dallas and Atlanta last year, while he also earned his maiden Top 5 win against Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the fourth round in Indian Wells in 2022.

“I think the experiences I had on the Tour last year will really help as long as you learn from them. I think that they will be really beneficial in big moments this year,” Brooksby said. “Most of the tournaments I’ve been to, so I’ll know how to handle the different situations that it can present. Last year in Europe I was gone for 11 weeks in a row and I’d never been gone more than like four weeks. That now helps for Australia, just knowing how to adjust.”

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Thursday’s second-round meeting against Ruud will provide another opportunity for the American to test himself on the biggest stage. Brooksby’s journey to this moment began 15 years ago. At the age of seven, his father, Glen, who named his son after Formula 1 driver Jenson Button, put Brooksby into tennis lessons.

From the age of 12, he began homeschooling and stopped playing other sports, with tennis his primary focus. With his father a constant support, Brooksby will be aiming to make him proud when he takes to court against Ruud.

“He’s been a huge part,” Brooksby said on his father. “He was able to get me lessons from my coach since I was seven years old. I was able to have lessons five days a week and he worked hard to get where he is today. I hope I can make him proud with what I’m doing as well, and I’m just grateful for all the opportunities that he’s been able to give me.”

Brooksby, who is making his debut in Melbourne, defeated Christopher O’Connell in four sets to reach the second round. If he can upset Ruud, he will book his spot in the third round at a major for the fourth time.

Having seen 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz defeat the Norwegian in the 2022 US Open final, Brooksby can turn to that as motivation as he aims to fight for every ball.

“I just want to have looked back after matches knowing that I worked my hardest and did everything I could, and then really from then I can just see how much I can progress. I am very motivated seeing those younger guys have the success. It makes me believe I can do the exact same thing, and if not better.”

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