Jenson Brooksby won a battle of Northern Californians on Thursday at the Atlanta Open, downing Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the his second quarter-final of the season.
The 21-year-old from Sacramento is back at home on the American hard courts as he looks to repeat his February run to the Dallas final.
"I've trained on [hard courts] my whole life, so just the reps on it makes [confidence] a guarantee for now," Brooksby said of his comfort level on the surface. "I'm really excited to have the hard-court season right now coming up and see what I can do."
"We're good friends... I knew it would definitely be a good match out there, a good battle, and it was," he said post-match. "I thought my focus again today was pretty good, so I'm just looking forward to keeping it up."
Brooksby improved to 6-3 against Americans at tour-level after winning his first ATP Head2Head meeting with McDonald. Up one place to No. 42 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, the Atlanta sixth seed could move as high as No. 32 by winning his first tour-level title this week — a mark which would be a new career-high.
He will next face John Isner, who edged University of Florida star Ben Shelton 7-6(8), 4-6, 7-6(3). The six-time and defending Atlanta champion did not break the Shelton serve in the two-hour, 24-minute contest, but showed veteran poise to take both tie-breaks.
"I really don't think I was the better player tonight," the second seed said in his on-court interview. "I think I was just a little luckier at the end."
After he improved to 37-5 in Atlanta, Isner was full of praise for his opponent.
"He's an incredible talent, holy cow! I'm definitely going to be a big fan of his in the future, that's for sure," Isner said. "He's just got a lot of firepower. He's young, he's exuberant. Truthfully, I don't see myself beating him anytime in the future. I hope I don't have to play him again.
"American men's tennis is really on the up right now, and he's part of a big group of players that are going to do some really good things three, four, five years from now."
Alex de Minaur opened the Atlanta evening session with a 6-4, 6-4 win against James Duckworth. The third seed was victorious in the all-Aussie matchup behind three breaks of serve as he began his campaign at the ATP 250 event.
Competing for the first time since his heartbreaking fifth-set tie-break loss to Cristian Garin in the Wimbledon fourth round, De Minaur will next face Adrian Mannarino.
The Frenchman earned a 7-5, 6-3 win against American wild card and Georgia Tech standout Andres Martin in the first match of the day on the stadium court. A lucky loser, Mannarino has not dropped a set in the main draw.