Second seed Casper Ruud lost to the hard-hitting American Jenson Brooksby on Thursday, one day after Rafael Nadal also went home. On Rod Laver Arena, the 39th-ranked Brooksby defeated the Norwegian Ruud 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2. The Norwegian took a medical break after the second set.
Following Nadal’s shocking loss on Wednesday to Mackenzie McDonald, an American player, on the same court, his early exit left the tournament without its top two seeds in week one.
It makes it possible for Novak Djokovic to win his tenth Melbourne title and temporarily puts an end to Ruud’s hopes of becoming the number-one player in the world.
Brooksby, 22, stated, “First and foremost, Casper is a warrior, I knew it would be a great battle out there.”
“I’m just really proud of how strong my mental resolve was after the third set didn’t go my way and how I turned it around.
“I just wanted to keep my focus out there,” said “I thought I was playing really strong.”
The defeat cost the 24-year-old Ruud any chance he had of taking over as world number one from Carlos Alcaraz, who is out of Melbourne with an injury.
Now, only Serbia’s superstar Novak Djokovic and Greece’s third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas can win the trophy.
As long as neither Djokovic nor Tsitsipas won the title, the governing body ATP says that Ruud could have done so by winning or simply reaching the final.
That won’t be devastating for a player who had a breakout year in 2022, reaching the US Open final twice.
Following his five-set victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, Brooksby, who is making his debut at the Australian Open, will take on Tommy Paul.
Brooksby, whose best Grand Slam performance came in the 2021 US Open, broke twice in the first set, leaving the Norwegian with 15 unforced errors and trailing.
Ruud, who was supposed to play Djokovic in the semis, got back together at the changeover and got two break points on Brooksby’s first serve in set two, but he couldn’t turn them into a set point.
They traded breaks throughout the exhausting second set before the American won a set point at 5-6 and moved two sets ahead on a lucky net cord after a 26-shot rally.
At the changeover, Ruud apparently left the court for a medical timeout due to an abdominal problem.
When he returned, his game did not improve; he was broken twice more before making a remarkable comeback.
As Brooksby became agitated and slammed his racquet on the ground, he saved three match points at 3-5 before taking the match to a tiebreak, where he broke early to advance to the fourth set.
However, undeterred, the courageous American reset to immediately break Ruud and race to a 3-0 lead.