LEXINGTON, KY, USA - Jennifer Brady picked up where she left off at the start of the season and reached new heights, at the Top Seed Open presented by Bluegrass Orthopaedics, winning her first WTA title over Swiss lefty Jil Teichmann, 6-3, 6-4.
"It feels great to win my first title," she said after the match. "There's only one winner each week, so walking away with the trophy for the first time, at home in America, I'm really happy."
Brady's big serve and heavy ground game proved effective throughout the week in Lexington, defeating Teichmann in one hour and 42 minutes to win the title without dropping a set.
"I've always wanted to win a WTA title, and everything I ever imagined turned out to be reality."
Teichmann was playing her first hardcourt final following a 2019 breakthrough that saw her capture her first two WTA titles on clay - including the Palermo Ladies Open over Kiki Bertens. The Swiss lefty eased past No.5 seed Yulia Putintseva to reach the quarters and ended Shelby Rogers' stunning run to the semis.
Brady, who split her two previous meetings with Teichmann last year - winning a three-set clash last summer at the Western & Southern Open - began 2020 with a big win over former World No.1 Maria Sharapova en route to the Brisbane International quarterfinals as a qualifier. She followed that up at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, again battling through qualies before shocking both Elina Svitolina and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza to make the semifinals.
"I didn't have my coach or trainer with me during the lockdown because they're both based in Germany. We had great communication over the past four, five months. They sent me a plan every day. Over the past few months I've been going non-stop, working and training really hard. Some days were tough but through most of it, I was pretty motivated and knew what I was doing would help in the long run."
To reach her first WTA final in Lexington, she lost just six games to on-fire teenager Cori "Coco" Gauff in the semifinals.
The pair played through several tense serve games to start the match, with Brady saving five break points in a titanic seventh game that proved pivotal; the American promptly broke in the next game and shook off losing a 40-0 lead to ultimately serve out the opening set.
"Before I walked onto the court, I knew I had to believe I could win, otherwise playing the match wouldn't have even made sense. I feel like I started the match slower on my serve. In my past few matches this week, I've been serving really well; I didn't look at the stats today but I know for a fact that it wasn't as high today as it has been. That had something to do with nerves, but that 4-3 game when I held serve was something that really helped me for the rest of the match."
Brady kept up that momentum early in the second, breaking serve early while remaining rock solid on her own delivery - saving all four break points face, and edging over the finish line after a long rally ended with a booming forehand winner.
"I tried not to think so much when I was serving in that 5-4 game, serving for the match. I was just focused on what I wanted to do with the serve and the first ball after that. I was trying not to get too ahead of myself, taking each point as is, because every point was an opportunity to get closer to the title."
The doubles final saw Haley Carter and Luisa Stefani win their second title as a team; the No.4 seeds ousted Marie Bouzkova, who paired with Teichmann in a successful week to reach their first doubles finals, 6-1, 7-5.