McDonald of US to face Sinner of Italy in Washington final

Aug 7, 2021, 3:07 AM | Updated: 7:39 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A little more than two years ago, American tennis player Mackie McDonald needed surgery for a torn hamstring tendon and couldn’t walk for weeks.

Look at the 26-year-old McDonald now — a finalist at an ATP tournament for the first time.

McDonald beat 2015 champion Kei Nishikori 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 at the Citi Open in a back-and-forth semifinal filled with superb baseline play across 2 hours, 46 minutes Saturday night.

“I feel like I put it all together a little bit this week,” said McDonald, who is unseeded and ranked 107th. “You never know when it’s going to click. For me, it’s this week, so far.”

He will face fifth-seeded and 24th-ranked Jannik Sinner of Italy for the trophy on Sunday.

The 19-year-old Sinner arrived at the hard-court tournament in the nation’s capital on a four-match losing streak. But he reached his fourth ATP final and stopped the run of 20-year-old Californian Jenson Brooksby with a 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory Saturday.

McDonald was a college star at UCLA, winning NCAA singles and doubles titles in 2016. In the pros, he showed real promise by reaching Wimbledon’s fourth round in 2018. But McDonald badly injured his leg in a doubles match at the 2019 French Open and the road back was tough.

He showed that his game was coming together this February, when he got to the Australian Open’s fourth round. More positive ground came this week, including beating defending Citi Open champion Nick Kyrgios in straight sets in the first round and the close one against 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Nishikori.

When Nishikori netted a forehand to get broken to end the match, McDonald let out a celebratory yell.

“Yeah, it means a lot. I’m trying to downplay or, I guess, downplay a little bit. Try to keep my cool,” said McDonald, who for years has written down his tennis goals and now is one win from accomplishing one of them. “I guess that’s what’s really helping me — not make the moments too big, getting too high or too low, staying focused, knowing the values behind it.”

Sinner can become the first teen to win the U.S. Open tuneup since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008, a year before the Argentine claimed his only Grand Slam title in New York.

“He’s fairly strong mentally. He makes good decisions,” Brooskby said about Sinner. “He does a lot of things right.”

But it was Brooksby who nearly nosed ahead, holding three set points when he was up 6-5 and got to love-40 while Sinner served.

That is where Brooksby faltered, suddenly deserted by the backhands and drop shots that have been been the bedrock of his success during a breakthrough season in which he raised his ranking from outside the top 300 to 130th.

On the brink of relinquishing the set, Sinner grabbed the next five points to hold for 6-all — or, more accurately, Brooksby frittered away the next five points.

“I was, yeah, a little bit lucky,” Sinner acknowledged afterward.

In the tiebreaker, Brooksby’s mistakes continued to mount. He tried a drop shot that Sinner got to and tapped over the net for a winner to begin things. The set — the first one Brooksby lost in five matches — concluded with a drop shot into the net.

“I just tried to stay calm, stay with the right mindset,” Sinner said. “The first set could have gone either way. This, for sure, gave me confidence for the second set.”

The denouement perhaps reflected the gulf in experience that favors the younger of the two. Brooksby had appeared in a total of nine ATP matches before Monday, 80 fewer than Sinner.

“I know what I did wrong and did not come away with it, and also the letdown after that,” Brooksby said. “I’ll definitely learn from that the most and be more comfortable with those situations as it goes on.”

___

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

Brazil's Vinicius Junior, right, fights for the ball with South Korea's Kim Moon-hwan, left, and Pa...
Associated Press

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Brazil forward Vinícius Júnior praised Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti for his success at the World Cup. Vinícius Júnior arrived in Qatar without knowing if he was going to get a chance to start for Brazil, but heading into Friday’s quarterfinal match against Croatia, no one questions his spot in the […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Bills’ Von Miller to miss rest of season after knee surgery

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills’ top pass-rusher Von Miller will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery to repair an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, coach Sean McDermott announced on Wednesday. McDermott said the ligament damage was discovered during a previously scheduled exploratory surgery, which […]
1 day ago
France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring his side's third goal during the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

Rested Mbappé to face England in World Cup quarterfinals

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Yes, Kylian Mbappé will be ready to face England at the World Cup on Saturday. No, the France forward was not injured when he missed a recent training session. France teammate Ibrahima Konaté delivered a reassuring message about Mbappé on Wednesday, news that perhaps England fans did not want to hear […]
1 day ago
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) looks to pass before San Francisco 49ers defensive en...
Associated Press

Tagovailoa, Zaporizhzhia make list of most mangled words

BOSTON (AP) — “Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa explained the significance of the Chicxulub impact crater to actor Domhnall Gleeson over a drink of negroni sbagliato in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia,” is the kind of sentence that just might tie your tongue up in knots. It contains five examples from this year’s list of […]
1 day ago
goalkeeper Andries Noppert of the Netherlands celebrates at the end of the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

Netherlands’ Noppert on Messi in World Cup: `He’s a human’

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Andries Noppert is ready to face Lionel Messi if the Argentina star takes a penalty kick in Friday’s World Cup quarterfinal match. “He’s the same like us. He’s a human,” the Netherlands goalkeeper said Wednesday. Messi has scored 21 goals in 26 penalty kick attempts for Argentina among his 94 international […]
1 day ago
Brenda and Brian Lilly look at photos of their son Brian Lilly Jr. in their Easton, Conn. home, Thu...
Associated Press

Rower’s family says abusive coach pushed athlete to suicide

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — On New Year’s Day nearly two years ago, Parker Kinney spent the day with Brian Lilly Jr. at picturesque Scripps Beach in the San Diego area and realized his friend had become a shadow of his former self. Kinney and Lilly walked on the sand for hours and went to dinner. […]
1 day ago
McDonald of US to face Sinner of Italy in Washington final