Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 10 of the 2021 US Open.
Here’s a new idea for a terrible t-shirt. Get one with writing on it that says, “I pushed Novak Djokovic as much as anyone in years and I got to show for it was this awesome 5th game won in the 2nd set.”
Look, we’re not saying this rolls off the tongue but it would work well on a t-shirt. If, you know, it’s a very big t-shirt.
And once someone has made this t-shirt, we need to collectively come together and send it to the 20-year-old who dazzled us all in the fourth round.
Jenson Brooksby might have lost his match against the great Djokovic by the score of 6-1, 3-6, 2-6 and 2-6 but he won thousands of fans in the process. (As well as, if we have our way, a new t-shirt.)
What about that fifth game of the second set?
To be fair, the fifth game of the second set, where Brooksby broke the Serb’s serve down 3-1 on the 24th point, was indeed spectacular. It was full of twists, reveals, and fake twists, the type of game you show to someone who rolls their eyes when you talk about matches between matches. The American acquitted himself well against Djokovic, better than we probably all could have expected. But for as well as he played in the first 90 minutes of the match, all he had to show for it was a split over the first two sets.
For everyone but a very small number of players, when you play the 34-year-old Djokovic, you must both play your absolute best and, at Grand Slams, make sure your level grants you a two-sets lead. Otherwise, you simply won’t have enough of a buffer for when your level dips back down to a more normal level. If you’re merely stuck at 1-1 after the first two sets, you won’t have enough to withstand Djokovic’s best over the remaining two or three sets.
In the fourth round, Brooksby didn’t have enough. But he showed that he had plenty.
Day 10 preview
Ready for the rest of our picks for the quarterfinals of the year’s final Grand Slam event? Read below. As we did yesterday, we’ll write a short analysis of the match-up as well as our pick on who we think will emerge victorious. As usual, you can see the full day 10 schedule right here.
Arthur Ashe Stadium: Emma Raducanu vs Belinda Bencic  (First match of the day)
You could say that Emma Raducanu has taken advantage of a lucky draw, but you would be wrong and foolish to say so. She’s had to run through the qualifying draw, after all, so how lucky has she really been? Yeah, Belinda Bencic is the first seeded player the 18-year-old is encountering, but Raducanu has been absolutely lethal so far: she’s only lost 15 total games on her run to the quarterfinals. Bencic, meanwhile, has been almost as ruthless in Flushing Meadows. This one should be a doozy. Let’s keep the magic going: Raducanu in three sets.
Arthur Ashe Stadium: Lloyd Harris vs Alexander Zverev  (Second match of the day)
Will the rampage of Lloyd Harris continue? After 25th-seed Karen Khachanov first, seventh-seed Denis Shapovalov in the third round, and 22nd-seed Reilly Opelka in his previous match, the South African now gets the fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals. Given the way that Harris has played, we’ll wish the German the best of luck. He’ll need it. Zverev gets the win in five sets.
Arthur Ashe Stadium: Maria Sakkari  vs Karolina Pliskova  (First match of the evening)
Welcome to the big show, Maria Sakkari. The Greek’s battle against Canadian Bianca Andreescu, which ended later than any women’s match has ever had in US Open history, was one of the highlights of the tournament so far. In case you didn’t know, it’s been quite the run for Sakkari.
this year Sakkari has ended
– Osaka’s 23-match winning streak in Miami
– Swiatek’s 11-match RG winning streak
– Andreescu’s 10-match US Open winning streak
— Alex Macpherson (@alex_macpherson) September 7, 2021
Will she now end Pliskova’s own run, as the Czech Republic native is now 19-4 since the start of Wimbledon? We’ll say no. Pliskova wins in three tough sets.
Arthur Ashe Stadium: Matteo Berrettini  vs Novak Djokovic  (Second match of the evening)
Congrats on making the 2021 US Open quarterfinals, Matteo Berrettini. All you get for your troubles is a third straight Grand Slam date against Djokovic. Life isn’t fair. In case the above intro didn’t make that obvious, what the Serb did against the American Brooksby was a thing of beauty. There hasn’t been many, if any, players better than him at absorbing a player’s greatest shots and salvo, and from there slowly but surely taking the life out of them. As former pro Andy Roddick put it on Twitter, matches against Djokovic go a little something like this.
First he takes your legs ……. Then he takes your soul
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) September 7, 2021
As has happened in their previous two meetings at Grand Slams, Djokovic gets the win in four sets.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG