Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Opelka during Antwerp loss: 'Brooksby best I've played'

Jenson Brooksby, 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area
 practices during the recent BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   During the second set today, Reilly Opelka declared that ultra-consistent Jenson Brooksby is "the best player I've played in my whole life."
   That's saying something considering Opelka, a 24-year-old American, is 0-1 against Rafael Nadal and 1-4 against reigning U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev. Opelka has never faced Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray.
   Brooksby, a 20-year-old qualifier from Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, beat the fifth-seeded Opelka, ranked No. 25 in the world and No. 1 in the United States, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the European Open, an ATP 250 tournament in Antwerp, Belgium.
   Although the 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Opelka pounded 12 aces to the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Brooksby's three on an indoor hardcourt in their first career meeting, Brooksby won 85 percent of the points on his first serve to Opelka's 73 percent and did not face a break point.
   Brooksby, who's projected to rise at least six more spots to a career-high No. 64, recorded his third top-25 win. He beat No. 15 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round in Washington, D.C., in August and No. 25 Aslan Karatsev in the third round of the U.S. Open in September. Both Auger-Aliassime and Karatsev reached Grand Slam semifinals this year.
   Brooksby is scheduled to play Botic Van De Zandschulp, a 26-year-old Dutchman ranked No. 62,  for the first time on Wednesday at about 8 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel) for a quarterfinal berth.
   Van De Zandschulp, who last month became the third qualifier to advance to the U.S. Open quarterfinals, defeated Alexei Popyrin of Australia 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 on Monday.
   Andy Murray, a 34-year-old wild card with a metal hip, saved two match points in a 7-6 (2), 6-7 (7), 7-6 (8) victory over Frances Tiafoe of Boynton Beach, Fla. At 3 hours, 45 minutes, it was the longest best-of-three-set match on the ATP Tour this year.
   Murray won the first of his 46 tour-level singles titles, including three Grand Slams, in San Jose at 18 in 2006 and repeated the following year. Tiafoe won the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger.
   Next for Murray is No. 2 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina. The 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter), 141-pound (64-kilogram) veteran received a first-round bye.
   WTA Tour — Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt drubbed wild card Lucrezia Stefanini of Italy 6-2, 6-0 in 74 minutes in the opening round of the Tenerife (Spain) Ladies Open, a WTA 250 tournament on clay. 
   Sherif, ranked No. 64, awaits the winner of the suspended match between top-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia. Svitolina leads 7-5.

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