Djokovic extends Slam bid; 1st time no US players in Open QF.
In a boisterous environment at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Novak Djokovic’s fourth-round opponent at the U.S. Open — Jenson Brooksby, the only American remaining in singles — gave him difficulties for 1 1/2 sets, including one especially fascinating and tough 24-point game.
That showed Djokovic, and the rest of the world, that Brooksby — a 20-year-old wild-card entrant from California who is ranked 99th and has never competed on such a large platform – belongs.
Then, predictably, Djokovic demonstrated why he is who he is and how he has come so close to winning the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis in 52 years.
The No. 1-ranked Djokovic advanced to 25-0 in majors this year by winning 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday night, settling in and delivering signals to the crowd with roars and to Brooksby with staredowns.
He extended his quest for a complete Grand Slam and a record-breaking 21st major title, while also becoming the first man or woman from the host nation to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, which goes back to the 1880s.
“It was a nice ending. It wasn’t a nice tart,” said Djokovic, who is aiming to add a fourth US Open championship to his collection, which includes a ninth-place finish at the Australian Open in February, a second-place finish at the French Open in June, and a sixth-place finish at Wimbledon in July.
In a repeat of the All England Club final, he will face No. 6 Matteo Berrettini of Italy.
In each of the last three sets, Djokovic broke in Brooksby’s first service game, which was crucial to Monday’s comeback.
“I wanted to wear him down, and it worked,” Djokovic said.
Brooksby, who had been troubled by a left hip earlier in the competition, was seen by a trainer after the second set and again after the third.
Brooksby never appeared intimidated by the location or the circumstances, despite never having set foot on Ashe’s blue court until approximately two hours before the match.
when he had a chance to practice there.
“We’ll see a lot of him in the future,” added Djokovic, who would become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Slam titles in the same year. “I mean, he’s got the money.
Obviously, a lot of things must now fall into place. He does, however, play an unusual game. It has a significant impact on the overall feel. He’s astute. He understands how to score.”
Brooksby’s 6-foot-4 strides and reach, his anticipation, his variety, which includes a well-disguised two-handed backhand slice, his think-steps-ahead point construction.
his commitment to patterns drawn up by his coach at home in Sacramento since age 7, Joe Gilbert — all of this left Djokovic perplexed early on.
“I felt it would be critical to start strong, to put my mentality, approach, and game out there,” Brooksby said. “I could see how that might work.
I really did have a lot of faith in myself out there that I could defeat him, that I could beat anyone.”
Brooksby had one unforced mistake in the opening set, while Djokovic made 11. Brooksby also won 14 of the points that lasted five strokes or longer, while Djokovic won four.
When Djokovic netted an overhead to take Brooksby two points from the set, the majority of the 23,000-plus fans in the stadium erupted, applauding and yelling, ecstatic to be back following last year’s restriction on audiences due to the epidemic.
When Djokovic botched a return to give his opponent the set, Brooksby raised both arms and received more applause.
“Electric. Awesome. It was enjoyable for me. “I really did,” added Djokovic, who would shortly be greeted by his own applause. “You guys pumped a lot of enthusiasm into both of the players.”
He pounded the air and screamed after breaking to go up 2-0 in the second set. At 3-1, an amazing game began: six break opportunities, beautiful deuces, 24 points in all, stretched out over almost 20 minutes.
Djokovic pushed the ball into the net to finish the game and make it 3-2, causing Brooksby to bounce and leap and windmill his arm before exclaiming, “Let’s go!”
And then, as quickly as he could, Djokovic regrouped. With Brooksby gasping for breath, Djokovic retaliated immediately, and the result was obvious.
Djokovic, a 34-year-old Serbian, said that the momentum had shifted.
On the men’s side, No. 4 Alexander Zverev of Germany will face Lloyd Harris of South Africa, No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada will face 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, and No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia will face qualifier Biotic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.
The women’s round-of-eight matchups are No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus vs. No. 8 Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine vs. 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada, No. 11 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland vs. 18-year-old qualifier Emma Raducanu of the United Kingdom, and No. 4
Sakkari defeated 2019 winner Bianca Andreescu 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3 in a match that concluded at 2:13 a.m., making it the tournament’s latest-ever women’s match.
“I hope you won’t be late for work tomorrow,” Sakkari said to those who remained until the finish. “Go get some rest, and I’ll see you in two days,” she said.
Brooksby’s elimination came after fourth-round exits by No. 22 seed Reilly Opelka from the men’s tournament with a 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 defeat to Harris and unseeded Shelby Rogers from the women’s draw with a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Raducanu earlier Monday.
Rogers beat two-time major winner and No. 1 Ash Barty in the third round but was unable to match her level of play in what she called a “very humiliating” performance on Monday.
In the singles fields, the brackets started with 43 Americans.
“We have a big bunch of guys,” Opelka added. “We just lack world-beaters.”