Over the last decade, former Georgia Bulldog and six-time champion John Isner has dominated the Atlanta Open. However, the 37-year-old’s quest to defend his 2021 title ended at the hands of 21-year-old Jenson Brooksby on Friday night in the quarterfinals at Atlantic Station. The No. 2 seed Isner fell to No. 6 seed Brooksby 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Although a long rain delay disrupted the day, the night match everyone was waiting for arrived on time and didn’t disappoint.

“It’s always a little bit of a challenge mentally when you know, lose the first set and know that there’s some things you have to be able to turn around and I think they came out a little bit soft in the first set and you can’t you can’t afford that against a guy like him,” Brooksby said after the match. “My focus has been good and I think that really showed in being able to turn my match around today so I’m feeling good.”

Isner started the quarterfinals strong with the help of his powerful serve. On the night, he had 24 aces, compared to Brooksby’s four.

Isner got the game’s first point to begin the back-and-forth battle and took the 1-0 lead over Brooksby with an ace. Brooksby would return to take the second game; however, the rest of the first set played greatly in Isner’s favor. Down 4-1, Brooksby climbed his way back into the competition after forcing an error to cut the lead to 4-2. The seventh game proved to be a big one for Isner’s serve. Back-to-back aces gave Isner the early 30-0 lead, and moments later, Isner clocked in a 119-mph serve and a 116-mph ace that brought him the advantage and ultimately secured the win.

This match proved to be a tale of three sets. Despite his hot start in the first set, Isner began losing his grip on the game in the second set, allowing Brooksby to coast to his first set win of the night. Serving a 100-mph ace, Brooksby got the first game easily after taking a quick 40-15 lead. Isner continued to struggle in the second game, going down 30-0 after two errors. A double fault by Isner put Brooksby up 40-0, and closing the game was an over hit by Isner to give Brooksby the 2-0 lead.

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John Isner reacts as he plays against Jenson Brooksby. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

John Isner reacts as he plays against Jenson Brooksby. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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John Isner reacts as he plays against Jenson Brooksby. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

A glimmer of hope came in the fourth game after Isner began with back-to-back aces; however, Brooksby clawed his way back to take the game and go up 4-0.

It wasn’t until the sixth game that Isner won his first set. Isner started with an ace. However, Brooksby caught up to make the game 30-15. Isner registered his first three straight aces to take the game and cut the lead to 5-1. Brooksby went on to take the next game easily to win the second set .

Despite the previous set’s score, the roaring crowd never gave up on Isner. With one more set to go, the Atlanta crowd applauded and cheered their home player, hoping to ignite him.

The third and final set proved to be more competitive than the last. Immediately, Isner took the first and Brooksby took the second to tie the set Another powerful serving performance helped Isner in the next game. A top-speed ace by Isner started the third game to give him the early lead. Alongside the impressive start, Isner recorded two 123-mph serves to overpower Brooksby and take the lead, 2-1.

Once again, Brooksby would respond to tie the set 2-2. Another ace by Isner helped him take the lead, 3-2. Brooksby gathered the next win after being up 40-0 to make it 3-3. Brooksby went on to take the next two games and boast his lead to 5-3. Firing two aces in a row, Isner kept the game alive and grabbed the win over Brooksby to pull within 5-4. Booksby was able to hold on to his lead and pull away with the dramatic win.

“Yeah, that’s the moment you know, you’ll just feel a little bit more nervous but I was breathing, relaxing, just getting my getting the focus back on track and even at 5-3 I thought I played a good game really, really had to make them earn that you know, and then just tried to repeat that again in the 5-4 game and was able to get through that one,” Brooksby said.

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Frances Tiafoe returns the ball to Brandon Nakashima during a men singles quarterfinal match at the 2022 Atlanta Tennis Open at Atlantic Station on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Frances Tiafoe returns the ball to Brandon Nakashima during a men singles quarterfinal match at the 2022 Atlanta Tennis Open at Atlantic Station on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
Frances Tiafoe returns the ball to Brandon Nakashima during a men singles quarterfinal match at the 2022 Atlanta Tennis Open at Atlantic Station on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

On Saturday, Brooksby will play No. 4 seed American Frances Tiafoe, who downed the 2021 runner-up and No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.

Joining the two in the semifinals will be Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka, who took down No. 5 seed American Tommy Paul, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. Ivashka will face No. 3 seed Australian Alex de Minaur, who defeated Adrian Mannarino, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.