#NextGen ATP American wild card Jenson Brooksby has boosted his chances of qualifying for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, following a straight-sets opening-round triumph over Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday.
In his Indian Wells debut, the 20-year-old scored a 7-6(5), 6-4 win on Stadium 1. At fifth in the ATP Race to Milan, he is next in line to qualify and holds a one-point lead over sixth-placed Lorenzo Musetti, an earlier loser to Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Day 2.
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At 26, Ilkel was contesting his first ATP Masters 1000 main draw and stuck with his younger opponent throughout the opening set as neither player surrendered serve. After taking the tie-break on his second set point, Brooksby landed the first break for 3-2 in the second set and sustained the advantage as he prevailed at the one-hour, 44-minute mark. Brooksby dropped just four points on his first serve, won 68 per cent on his second serve and did not face a break point throughout.
He next meets German third seed Alexander Zverev for a place in the round of 32. One of six American men in action on Day 2, Brooksby has enjoyed a breakthrough run since the ATP Tour headed to his home turf after Wimbledon. He reached his maiden tour-level final at Newport in July (l. to Anderson) and defeated Kevin Anderson, Frances Tiafoe, Felix Auger-Aliassime and John Millman without dropping a set to reach the semi-finals in Washington.
Brooksby then made the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time where he took a set off World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. He arrived in Indian Wells at a career-high No. 79 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, having started the year at No. 307.