Kevin Anderson will face newcomer Jenson Brooksby in the Hall of Fame Open final on Sunday.
It took 2 hours and 43 minutes for Anderson to upset top seed Alexander Bublik, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 on a sweltering Saturday afternoon in Newport, RI. Brooksby closed out No. 7 seed Jordan Thompson 6-3, 7-6 (3) with an unexpected fog rolling in.
The 20-year-old American has been the breakthrough performance of the week. Brooksby is the second-youngest finalist in the event’s 45-year history after a 19-year-old Greg Rusedski reached the 1993 final.
Three ATP Challenger titles in 2021 have rocketed his ranking up to No. 152 in just six months. His confidence helped dig him out of a 2-5 hole in the second set against Thompson.
“I was really confident in myself definitely getting the break [while] down 2-5 and switching it back,” Brooksby said. “I was playing better towards the mid/end of that second set, and I definitely brought a lot of confidence in that breaker.”
He’ll next take on the more experienced Anderson, who has yet to hit less than 16 aces in a match this week though each battle has been more and more physically draining.
“I think it was right at around 5-all in the second set where I suddenly started really feeling it physically,” Anderson said. “What was interesting is even though I was getting more fatigued, I felt I found my serve much better in the second half of the match.”
The last time Anderson played in Newport, he was 22 years old and just one year out of college. He played three years for the University of Illinois, getting inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2018. He moves into his 20th career final on the same day Goran Ivanišević and Conchita Martínez are being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
“During the changeover, I was listening to Goran talk a little bit about when he got the call, and you can see what it meant to him,” Anderson said. “Being here in Newport and seeing the history of the museum and everything, I think it adds to it. Hopefully, one day, I might have the same honor.”
Although the 35-year-old South African has been as high as No. 5 and has played two Grand Slam finals, injury setbacks have pushed him out of the Top 100. He’s now guaranteed to get back inside of the Top 100, and that places him in the US Open main draw.
“I knew I had to make the semifinals to get into the main draw, so that was a big first step yesterday,” Anderson said. “And then now onto step 2. Hopefully, I can go a step further.”
Brooksby is also chasing the Top 100. His ranking will rise to a career-high regardless of what happens Sunday.
It's showing I'm doing a lot of things right, and I'm working hard and working smart,” Brooksby said. “I’m definitely enjoying how this year has been going so far, and this motivates me, even more, to keep pushing and keep going.”
Anderson, a six-time ATP titleist, will be seeking his first title on grass when he faces Brooksby for the first time.
Sunday’s final will be at 2:30 EST, following the doubles final. The doubles championship match will feature Americans Jack Sock and Will Blumberg against Vasek Pospisil and Austin Krajicek.
Sock and Pospisil won the 2014 Wimbledon crown in their debut as a team, and the last time they played each other was for the Olympics bronze medal in Rio, with Sock and Steve Johnson beating Pospisil and Daniel Nestor.
Written by Nina Pantic