Shoe Stopper: Alcaraz outclasses Brooksby and returns to US Open
By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, September 3, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz swept past Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to become the youngest man to reach the US Open fourth round in consecutive years since Pete Sampras in 1989-90.
photo credit: Getty
NEW YORK—Playing in front of home fans, Jenson Brooksby found no safe space facing Carlos Alcaraz.
Five games into the second set, the 21-year-old Brooksby finally got Alcaraz exactly where he wanted him – backpedaling and on the defensive.
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On the retreat, Alcaraz threw a topspin forehand to extend the point, then threw a clean backhand pass that stuck to the sideline like metal to a magnet.
Even while retreating, Alcaraz continued to advance.
Third-seeded Alcaraz swept the last six games in a row by outscoring Brooksby 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 at Arthur Ashe Stadium in a decisive win for the explosive young Spaniard.
“I played really, really well,” Alcaraz said. ESPN’s Brad Gilbert during his interview in the field afterwards. “High intensity, high level. I knew it was going to be a tough game. Brooksby is a really tough opponent. I’m really happy with my performance today, I’m going to keep going.”
Alcaraz, 19, became the youngest man to reach the fourth round of the US Open two consecutive years since Hall of Famer Pete Sampras in 1989-90. It was a much-anticipated showdown between two young rising stars, but Alcaraz exuded more dynamic athleticism and a deeper mastery of the shooting spectrum dominating parts of the game.
Generating an offense against Alcaraz proved problematic for Brooksby, who took a set from Novak Djokovic at the 2021 US Open. A bigger problem: Alcaraz’ twisted forehand was much more damaging today. Alcaraz cracked 46 winners in three sets – to 10 winners in total for Brooksby. Alcaraz often commanded the center of the field, firing 23 forehands to Brooksby’s two.
Third-seeded Alcaraz hit a backhand return winner on the line to take a 3-2 lead in the second set. The Miami Open champion confirmed the break at 15 for 4-2.
The fun factor in Ashe is pic.twitter.com/3uXwWLoYxi
— US Tennis Open (@usopen) September 3, 2022
Alcaraz’s depth of play was on display with a spinning volley winner which he backstabbed to hold it 5-2. When Brooksby stuck a running forehand into the middle of the net, Alcaraz broke for a two-set lead after 90 minutes.
The fiery Brooksby exudes an intensity as natural as some people shed sweat. Barking between the points, Brooksby drew an errant forehand from Alcaraz scoring his second break of the match to start the third set.
Just absolute bananas from Brooksby and Alcaraz pic.twitter.com/kVvo22gs1J
— US Tennis Open (@usopen) September 3, 2022
In an emotional 17-hit circus rally, Brooksby fell to the seat of his shorts hitting a high smash, rose to smash another overhead, then returned to the baseline where he belted a backhand pass down the line. This superb streak helped the American hold 3-0 and revived the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Unfazed by the uprising, Alcaraz clawed back a break and then it was off to the races. Alcaraz has won two of the last six matches at love and a third at 15, raising his game to a level the American could not match.
“Brooksby, I would say he upped his level at the start of the third set,” Alcaraz said. “I knew I was going to have my chances in the third set. I knew he was going to drop his level a bit and had to take my opportunity in the third set.
“I was there the whole time and yes, I took my opportunity in the third set.”
The electric athleticism and eclectic shot selection the 19-year-old Spaniard possesses was on display as he sifted through a sliding backhand half-volley winner holding for 2-3.
When Alcaraz wasn’t busy popping the ball, he beat his equipment with his physicality and his “no ball is out of reach” mentality. Alcaraz scored his second consecutive break for 3-all, then took a time out to change his “broken” Nike boots after a six-foot slip on the blue hard court left a gash behind.
“It would be the third time I broke the shoes,” Alcaraz said. “I slip a lot as you can see. The shoes break a lot and yes that’s something I change a lot. As you can see I run a lot and I try to get all the balls and that is normal for me.”
The Miami and Madrid Open champion is neck and neck with second-seeded Rafael Nadal, leading the ATP Tour with four titles this season.
Next up for Alcaraz is either former US Open champion Marin Cilic or 20th-seeded Briton Daniel Evans.