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Brooksby, McDonald make recent history for U.S. men's tennis at Australian Open

Victoria Chiesa | January 18, 2023


Americans Mackenzie McDonald and Jenson Brooksby made recent history for U.S. men's tennis within 24 hours of each other with their wins over No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal and No. 2 seed Casper Ruud, respectively, in Round 2 of the Australian Open. 

 

It's the first time in 29 years that American men have defeated both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at the same major. At Roland Garros in 1994, Jim Courier beat No. 1 seed Pete Sampras in the quarterfinals after Aaron Krickstein beat No. 2 seed Michael Stich in Round 2. 

 

More from the Australian Open: Round 2 recap for Americans Down Under

 

McDonald dehtroned defending champion Nadal—who was hobbled by a hip injury late in the match—on Wednesday inside Rod Laver Arena, and Brooksby followed him with a 3 hour, 58-minute win in Melbourne Park's main stadium against Ruud on Thursday. 

Brooksby was control of the match against the 2022 Roland Garros and US Open finalist for the majority of that time. He won four straight games to win the first set, and after coming from an early break down in the second set, never trailed again until he stepped to the line to serve for a straight-sets victory. After failing to convert three match points at 5-3, he reset well in a dominant fourth set. 

 

He hit 50 winners to Ruud's 33, and broke the Norwegian's serve nine times. 

 

It's been a fruitful four days for U.S. men Down Under. Eight are through to Round 3, as are six U.S. women. As it turns out, success breeds success, and a little bit of inspiration, too. McDonald told reporters after his victory that he took notes from his compatriots' victories against Nadal in the last 12 months. 

 

"I thought about Taylor [Fritz] taking him out, and Foe [Frances Tiafoe]," he said. "I talked to Tommy [Paul] about it too last night. That definitely gave me some more confidence."

Photo by Martin Keep/AFP via Getty Images.

While Brooksby's belief stemmed from internal fortitude—"I knew today was a match I could win for sure in my mind," he said—he called out McDonald as a friend in his post-match press conference, despite proclaiming himself as more reserved on tour and not much of a "social guy."

 

"I think we all push each other to really get better, regardless of each guy's situation," Brooksby added. "I think that's shown in a lot of the guys having strong results lately."

 

In addition to Brooksby and McDonald, Michael Mmoh, Tommy Paul and J.J. Wolf also took out seeded players in Round 2. Mmoh, a lucky loser, beat former world No. 2 and No. 12 seed Alexander Zverev in four sets, while Paul came from two-sets-to-one down to outlast No. 30 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a five-set thriller. Wolf was a straight-sets winner against No. 23 seed Diego Schwartzman. Mmoh and Wolf will play each other next, as will Brooksby and Paul, assuring that at least two American men will reach the second week. 

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