On Sunday, one day after Goran Ivanišević was inducted for winning Wimbledon as a wild card in 2001, wild card entries won both the singles and doubles Hall of Fame Open events.
Kevin Anderson became the 2021 champion by defeating breakout star Jenson Brooksby 7-6(8), 6-4. The 14.5-year age gap between 35-year-old Anderson and 20-year-old Brooksby is the largest ever in Newport final history.
Anderson and Brooksby traded holds of serve for the lengthy 77-minute first set. Anderson utilized his one-two punch with his huge serve and forehand, while Brooksby hung in with big backhands, passing shots, and a maturity far beyond his years.
Though Brooksby had a 5-2 lead in the tie-breaker, it was Anderson who dug in, saved two set points, and closed out the first set with a clutch backhand winner of his own.
The two-time Grand Slam finalist’s experience shone through as he pounced in the first game of the second set to break Brooksby’s serve. He’d close out the championship on his second match point.
“In the first set, I felt like he had some more opportunities and then I was able to play some really good points in big moments [and] served well...” Anderson said. “It's been a long time since I've been able to play five matches like this so I can take a lot of confidence.”
Brooksby, the youngest player in the draw, was making his grass-court and ATP 250 debut (although he has made three Grand Slam appearances). The World No. 152-ranked American leaves Rhode Island with a lot of new fans and a guaranteed career-high ranking inside of the Top 130.
“It was a really tough match,” Anderson said. “I was really impressed with the way Jenson played especially being in his first final. I felt he really rose to the occasion...I've seen him working really hard this whole week. I think he's got a very bright future ahead of him.”
At No. 113, Anderson is the third player outside of the Top 100 to win an ATP title in 2021.
Newport is Anderson’s first grass-court title, first trophy since winning Pune in 2019, and seventh overall. Most memorable of all, it’s the first time he has won a tournament as a father. He and his wife Kelsey welcomed their first child, Keira, on Sept. 27, 2019, and she got to be part of the trophy ceremony.
“Just seeing her afterwards and experiencing that with them for the first time was really nice,” Anderson said. “It's been really special being with them this week just with everything I've been traveling by myself... So it's been great that things are sort of a little bit back to normal.”
Anderson was pushed to the physical brink during the week, needing over 2.5 hours to beat Jack Sock in the quarterfinals and top seed Alexander Bublik in the semifinals. His win over Brooksby came in at 2 hours and 11 minutes.
The victory places the former World No. 5 back inside of the Top 80 as he continues on through the US Open Series with a main-draw place secured for the US Open.
“It's a great start for me heading into the rest of the summer and the rest of the year,” Anderson said. “I kind of felt like I've been knocking on this door to find that little breakthrough. It's still a journey and there are still a lot of steps to go to where I want to get to, but this is a very important step for me.”
Earlier on Sunday in the doubles final, Sock and Will Blumberg beat Vasek Pospisil and Austin Krajicek 6-2, 7-6(3) to win their first title together. Americans Sock and Blumberg have been friends for years, bonding over Fortnight, golf, and a shared residency of North Carolina.
“I think we say we just stick to our weapons and tried to use those well,” Sock said. “It kind of all happens quick anyways in doubles. It's more of a feel thing, you’ve got split-second decisions. We just went out there and honestly just had fun and kept it light and played well.”
It’s Blumberg’s first ATP title ever and Sock’s first since winning the ATP Finals in 2018 with Mike Bryan.
Written by Nina Pantic