California’s Brooksby, 20, to play Italy’s Sinner, 19, in DC

Aug 6, 2021, 6:20 AM | Updated: 10:16 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jenson Brooksby wasn’t even supposed to play in the Citi Open at all. Now the kid’s in the final four of his first ATP 500 event.

Brooksby beat 11th-seeded John Millman of Australia 6-1, 6-2 in just 67 minutes on Friday at the hard-court tournament, making the 20-year-old from Sacramento, California, the lowest-ranked semifinalist in Washington since John Isner in 2007.

“I’m not surprising myself … (and) by now, people know what to expect, in general. But, I mean, I think I still am surprising them,” said Brooksby, who started the year outside the top 300, began the week at No. 130 after reaching the final on grass at Newport, Rhode Island, last month, and now is primed to break into the top 100. “But, I mean, within myself, I know it’s very doable, and I’m glad that I have been doing it so far.”

He has not dropped a set through four victories — three against seeded opponents, including No. 2 Felix Auger-Aliassime and No. 16 Frances Tiafoe, and another against two-time Grand Slam runner-up Kevin Anderson.

No less than a tennis authority than Andy Murray took note of Brooksby’s progress. The three-time major champion and former No. 1 tweeted, “Jenson Brooksby is the sort of player I love to watch,” praising his “variety” and “high tennis IQ.”

Next up is another seeded, and even younger, opponent: No. 5 Jannik Sinner, a 19-year-old from Italy who defeated Steve Johnson of the U.S. 6-4, 6-2.

The other semifinal will be 2015 champion Kei Nishikori against Mackie McDonald, who has never reached an ATP final.

Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up, advanced Friday night with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over No. 14 seed Lloyd Harris, before McDonald beat Denis Kudla 6-3, 6-2.

Anderson and Kudla originally were given wild-card entries in Washington; 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, the top seed who lost to Harris on Thursday night, was another recipient.

So Brooksby was in Lexington, Kentucky, competing on the lower-level Challenger Tour last week when he found out that withdrawals by others allowed Anderson and Kudla to move into the bracket on the strength of their rankings, freeing up a last-minute wild-card invitation.

Brooksby caught a flight to the nation’s capital and has displayed a game that has a bit of everything — reflex returns, a top-notch backhand, drop shots, an improving serve — backed up by a confident approach.

He likes to say that his greatest strength is having no weakness.

“I came motivated and ready to compete my butt off here and show my level consistently, as always,” he said. “I’m excited to keep proving my level and keep going out there and competing.”

This was the American’s second time facing Millman, who beat a 17-year-old Brooksby in straight sets in the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open. Millman would go on to beat Roger Federer en route to the quarterfinals.

“I’m a late grower, so I think mostly I think I have just physically improved a lot,” the 6-foot-4 Brooksby said, describing himself as “just a small guy” during that initial contest against Millman. “Now I think my game has just gotten better. I have gotten mentally stronger and definitely more physical. So it’s definitely a way different ballgame for me in general now than a couple years ago.”

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach speaks after the NFL AFC Championship playoff footba...
Associated Press

Super Bowl-bound Chiefs are built around Patrick Mahomes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are built around their half-billion dollar All-Pro quarterback, and for the past five years, Super Bowl-bound Patrick Mahomes has made everyone else around him all the more valuable. He’s taken marginal wide receivers and turned them into stars. Mediocre offensive linemen became stalwarts. Finishing the second […]
2 days ago
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the NHL All-Star hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, i...
Associated Press

Gary Bettman defends NHL handling of Pride night situations

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at his state of the game news conference Saturday at All-Star Weekend defended the way the league and two teams handled situations that arose regarding Pride night celebrations. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov did not take part in warmups Jan. 18 because he refused to wear a […]
2 days ago
Pacific Division's Elias Pettersson, of the Vancouver Canucks (40) tries to get a shot off on Centr...
Associated Press

Central makes final at NHL All-Star Game, tops Pacific 6-4

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Arizona’s Clayton Keller had two goals and an assist, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and the Central Division moved into the title matchup with a 6-4 win over the Pacific Division to start the All-Star Game on Saturday. St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and three assists for the Central. […]
2 days ago
FILE - Texas sports editor, Denne Freeman listens to University of Texas Safety Stanley Richard dur...
Associated Press

Former AP sports writer Denne H. Freeman dies at 86

DALLAS (AP) — Retired longtime Associated Press sports writer Denne H. Freeman, whose 32 years with the AP included covering all five Super Bowl championships won by the Dallas Cowboys and many golf majors, has died after a series of health issues. He was 86. Freeman’s family said he died Friday night at a Plano […]
2 days ago
FILE - Allegiant Stadium is shown during the second half of the Pro Bowl NFL football game between ...
Associated Press

NFL infuses Pro Bowl with points system, flag football

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NFL finally stopped pretending its all-star game was an actual game, and is breathing life into the exhibition with Sunday’s Pro Bowl Games. There will be no tackle football played for the first time — not that there was much tackling in recent years, more like two-hand touch. Flag football […]
2 days ago
Al Ahly players celebrate after Al Ahly's Mohamed Afsha scored his side's opening goal during the F...
Associated Press

Al Ahly’s late goal ends Seattle debut 1-0 in Club World Cup

TANGIER, Morocco (AP) — Mohamed Afsha scored on a deflected shot in the 88th minute and sent Al Ahly into the Club World Cup semifinals by beating the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Saturday. Afsha scored after coming on as a substitute in the 63rd. He lifted Al Ahly into the semifinals for the third straight […]
2 days ago
California’s Brooksby, 20, to play Italy’s Sinner, 19, in DC