Brooksby storms into first ATP semifinals; faces Thompson next

Newcomer Jenson Brooksby is through to his first ATP semifinal at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport. In Friday’s first singles match, the 20-year-old American beat Peter Gojowczyk 6-0, 6-3 in just over an hour.

“I'm never surprised,” Brooksby said of his breakthrough run. “I think everything happens for a reason, and I'm happy with how it's gone so far this week… I expect good things for myself, and I'm just looking forward to the next one.”

Brooksby is playing his first ATP 250 after appearing in three Grand Slams (2018-2019 US Open and 2021 Roland Garros). He had won the 2018 USTA Boys’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild card into that year’s US Open, losing his debut. One year later, Brooksby qualified for the US Open and stunned former World No. 4 Thomas Berdych.

“I definitely believe my level has improved since then, but I think the bigger thing is I’ve played with more discipline and focus,” the Californian said. “I've hit the right shots better in practice more often, which has made it easier for me to transition mentally like confidence-wise. Also, my physicality has gotten a lot better, especially since two years ago.”

After one season at Baylor in 2020—where he didn’t play a match due to COVID and an injury—Brooksby turned pro. Just over six months into his career, he has won three ATP Challengers with a 21-2 Challenger Tour record in 2021 and is up to No. 152 in the world.

On Saturday, Brooksby will face No. 7 seed Jordan Thompson after the Australian took out Maxime Cressey 6-3, 7-6(6) in Friday’s second quarterfinal. Thompson served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, squandering two match points before closing it out in the tie-break.

“Nearly lost that set in a heartbeat, but thankful strung a couple of points together, and a win’s a win,” Thompson said.

The World No. 71 is through to his first semifinal in two years (since Antalya in 2019) and just his third since turning pro in 2013. All three of his deep ATP-level runs have come on grass.

“I don't think I think guys move as well as on grass as they do clay,” Thompson said. “It's a unique surface so movement is probably the toughest thing about playing on grass. And I'd say that's probably the best part of my game is my movement.”

The 27-year-old has been ranked as high as No. 43 and enjoyed a career breakthrough by reaching the fourth round of the 2020 US Open.

Thompson and Brooksby have never played each other but have Challenger-tour domination in common. In 2018, Thompson went 52-17 on the Challenger Tour, winning three titles. He’s mainly been playing on the ATP Tour since then, a trajectory Brooksby hopes to emulate.

“I don't have a specific ranking goal or anything like that because I feel like that's just more distracting to tour culture,” Brooksby said. “But obviously, I want to play more ATP events and be at this level consistently.”

Saturday’s semifinals will see top seed Alexander Bublik battle Kevin Anderson before Brooksby takes the court against Thompson.

Written by Nina Pantic