For the second day running at the Australian Open, an unseeded American has bounced a top seed from the men’s singles draw. After Mackenzie McDonald’s shocker against Rafael Nadal on Wednesday, Jenson Brooksby defeated second seed Casper Ruud on Thursday in Rod Laver Arena.
The Melbourne debutant was in control throughout his 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2 victory, with Ruud having to save three match points and battle back from 2-5 in the third set just to extend the contest. Brooksby scored the biggest win of his career by frustrating the two-time major finalist, using a steady diet of crosscourt backhands to keep him pinned to his weaker corner for much of the three-hour, 55-minute match.
“First and foremost, Casper is a warrior,” Ruud said post-match. “I knew it would be great battle out there. I was pretty confident with my level and just wanted to have fun competing out there.
“I was just really proud of my mental resolve there, after the third-set battle didn’t go my way, to just turn it around.”
The 22-year-old American was especially dominant in the long rallies, winning 50 of 68 exchanges of nine balls or more. Neither man had an easy time on serve, with 25 break point chances split 13-12 in favour of Brooksby. But the American converted on nine of those opportunities to Ruud’s four, making the difference in the match.
The most crucial of those break points came on set point for Brooksby in the second, with Ruud serving at 5-6, 30/40. At the conclusion of a tense, 26-ball rally, Brooksby benefitted from a timely slice of luck as a backhand clipped the net and trickled over for a winner.
That ending is just cruel 😩
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2023
After the second set, Ruud left the court for a medical timeout. The World No. 3 dug deep to force a fourth set, but was outclassed in the decider.
“[I had to] just keep bringing my level,” Brooksby said of his mentality after dropping the third-set tie-break. “I thought I was playing really strong and I just wanted every game to not lose my focus out there.”
With the defeat, Ruud misses out on his chance to leave Melbourne atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Either Novak Djokovic or Stefanos Tsitsipas can claim World No. 1 by winning the Australian Open title, with the injured Carlos Alcaraz set to remain on top with any other outcome.
Next up for Brooksby is countryman Tommy Paul, who booked his third-round place with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 win against 30th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina earlier on Thursday.
“That’s going to be another battle for sure,” Brooksby said of the matchup. “A lot of Americans are doing really well right now and we’re all pushing each other. I’m just looking forward to the next one.”
Paul won the pair’s lone previous meeting 6-3, 6-2 last season in Cincinnati.