Novak Djokovic had another wobble during his bid for history at the US Open. The world No 1 can become the first man to win a 21st Major and the first in 52 years to achieve the Calendar Grand Slam by picking up the title in Flushing Meadows but has admitted he hasn’t played his best in moments so far. Djokovic dropped the first set to world No 99 Jenson Brooksby during his fourth-round, hailing the American for playing “perfect” at the beginning.
Djokovic faced young American Brooksby for a spot in the US Open quarterfinals.
The top seed was the heavy favourite to win the match, but the word No 99 had impressed over the summer, storming to the ATP 250 final in Newport while ranked No 152, and backed the run up by beating the likes of Kevin Anderson, Frances Tiafoe and Felix Auger-Aliassime to make the semi-finals of the ATP 500 in Washington.
The 20-year-old had since backed up both results over the best-of-five Grand Slam format, beating world No 42 Taylor Fritz in four sets in the second round, before outlasting one of 2021’s biggest breakthrough stars, Aslan Karatsev, in five sets to book his meeting with Djokovic.
Brooksby continued to impress as he started strong against the Serb as they took to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to kick off the night session.
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“I must say that it wasn’t a great start for me. Jenson was pumped he had a clear game plan, and was executing all the shots. I was on the back foot and he was reading the play.
“The momentum was changed midway second set. We played two long games. After that I started hitting more cleanly and through the court. I found my serves well.
“It was a physical battle with exhausting rallies. Credit to him. He played a perfect first set. I couldn’t do much. He disguises drop shots and slices so well. He’s talented, so crafty, a very intelligent player, no doubt about it.”
The world No 1 also enjoyed the crowd on tennis’ biggest stadium, with the Serb receiving a much warmer reception than he has in recent matches.
Speaking on court after the match, he said the atmosphere was: “electric, awesome.”
“I enjoyed it. It gives both players energy and motivation to showcase.”
Brooksby himself enjoyed taking everything in on his debut appearance on Arthur Ashe, saying: ““I did take time to look around a little bit, just appreciated being in an atmosphere like that with so many people cheering you on. Took a moment to still have it all in after.
“You’re not going to win every match you play obviously, but you still have to enjoy it.”