Friday, March 19, 2021

Brooksby overcomes big deficit to reach Challenger final

Jenson Brooksby of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento
area, rallied from 2-6, 2-5, saving two match points, in
today's victory. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby "Brothers" had no business winning today's match in the $52,080 Cleveland Open.
   He did anyway. As usual, mental toughness had a lot to do with it.
   After trailing 6-2, 5-2, the 20-year-old resident of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area saved two match points and reeled off nine consecutive games en route to a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 semifinal victory over third-seeded Emilio "Estevez" Gomez of Ecuador in 2 hours, 21 minutes. 
   The unseeded Brooksby, who won turned pro in December and won his first Challenger title last month in Potchefstroom, South Africa, extended his winning streak to nine matches.
   For almost two full sets, the 29-year-old Gomez looked like the second coming of his father, 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, getting everything back. But as the pressure mounted, he looked like Gomez Addams, spraying shots all over the place.
   Brooksby took a medical timeout for an apparent leg problem at 6-5 in the second set but seemed fine for the rest of the match.
   Brooksby, who will jump at least 25 places to a career-high No. 229 on Monday, is scheduled to face 27-year-old American Bjorn "Borg" Fratangelo, unseeded at No. 286 after reaching a career-high No. 99 in 2016, for the first time on Saturday at noon. PDT. The match will be streamed live.
   Fratangelo, whose last title came in the 2018 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger, defeated compatriot Aleksandar Kovacevic, a 22-year-old qualifier ranked No. 537, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
   ATP Tour in Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Lloyd "Kamala" Harris of South Africa became the first qualifier to reach the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final, surprising third-seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (6) in 2:41.
   Shapovalov, a 21-year-old left-hander ranked 12th, essentially threw the match away with double faults in the second set after leading 4-2. 
   Harris, 24, advanced to his first ATP 500 final with his second victory over a top-15 player in the tournament. He ousted Dominic Thiem, seeded first and ranked fourth, in the second round.
   Harris, who won the $100,000 Stockton Challenger and reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos Challenger in Northern California in 2018, is scheduled to play wild card Aslan "Forty" Karatsev of Russia for the first time on Saturday at 8 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). 
   Karatsev, an Australian Open semifinalist as a qualifier last month, ousted countryman Andrey Rublev, seeded second, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
   ATP Tour in Acapulco, Mexico — Second-seeded Alexander Zverev, the Acapulco runner-up in 2019, topped Dominik Koepfer, an unseeded left-hander, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in a semifinal matchup of Germans.
   The 26-year-old Koepfer, who reached NorCal Challenger finals in 2018 and 2019, double-faulted twice while serving for the second set at 5-3 in his first ATP semifinal. He eliminated fourth-seeded Milos Raonic in the second round.
   In the doubles semifinals, unseeded brothers Ken and Neal "Officer" Skupski of Great Britain beat fourth-seeded Rajeev Ram "Tough," a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury "Steak" of Great Britain 6-4, 7-6 (5).
   Ram, who turned 37 on Thursday, and Salisbury, 28, were playing in their first tournament since losing in the Australian Open final as the defending champions.

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