Sunday, February 21, 2021

Djokovic wins 9th AO title; Brooksby breaks through

Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy and Serbian flag after winning
the 2015 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Photo by Paul Bauman
   For someone who supposedly tore an abdominal muscle in the third round, Novak Djokovic did pretty well in the Australian Open.
   That's not entirely shocking.
   The top-ranked Djokovic rolled to his third consecutive Australian Open singles title and — brace yourself — ninth overall in the tournament, beating fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 today in Melbourne. 
   "Definitely, emotionally, the most challenging Grand Slam that I ever had, with everything that was happening — injury, off-court-stuff, quarantines," Djokovic, who improved to 18-0 in Australian Open semifinals and finals, told reporters. "A roller-coaster ride."
   It was the 33-year-old Djokovic's 18th Grand Slam singles crown, two short of the record held by Roger Federer, 39, and Rafael Nadal, 34. The trio have won 15 of the past 16 majors — Dominic Thiem won last year's U.S. Open with Djokovic defaulted and Nadal and Federer absent — and 58 of the last 70.
   Djokovic snapped Medvedev's winning streak at 20 matches and improved to 5-3 against the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Russian.
   "He's really good (at) reading an opponent's game, knowing what you will do next, how to beat you," said Medvedev, who had won three of his past four encounters against Djokovic, all in best-of-three-set matches. 
   Medvedev, 25, fell to 0-2 in Grand Slam finals. He lost an epic match to Nadal in the 2019 U.S. Open.  
   Djokovic pocketed $2.13 million for the title, down from $3.12 million last year for pandemic-related reasons. He will remain No. 1 at least through March 8, giving him 311 weeks at the top to break Federer's mark.
   Medvedev, who collected $1.16 million, will rise one notch to a career-high No. 3 on Monday.
Jenson Brooksby poses with his trophy in
South Africa. Photo courtesy of ATP Tour.
   ATP Challenger Tour Jenson Brooksby, 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area won his first Challenger title today, topping Teymuraz Gabashvili, 35, of Russia 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the $52,080 PotchOpen II in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Both players were unseeded.
   "I was pretty nervous at the start," Brooksby, who turned pro in December, admitted on "Teymuraz started out strong and caught me a bit off guard, but I battled past the nerves, thankfully, to get through."
   Brooksby, who earned $7,200, will soar 66 places to a career-high No. 249 on Monday. As an 18-year-old qualifier, he stunned Tomas Berdych, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open.
   Gabashvili, who climbed to a career-high No. 43 in 2016, will improve 32 spots to No. 247. He reached the fourth round of the French Open in 2010 and 2015.

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