Jennifer Brady became the newest resident of the WTA's Title Town on Sunday, capping off a dominant run at the Top Seed Open in Lexington with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jil Teichmann to win her maiden title. A title seemed due for the 25-year-old American, who had quietly enjoyed a breakout start to the season before the tour shut down in March.
After making the unorthodox decision to do her off-season in Germany with new coach Michael Geserer and fitness trainer Daniel Pohl, the Florida resident emerged at her first event of the season in Brisbane fitter and stronger than ever. She ground through a gritty win over Maria Sharapova in her first match of the year, before ousting World No.1 Ashleigh Barty in straight sets to make her first Premier quarterfinal.
One month later, Brady bettered that run with her first Premier semifinal, defeating Australian Open finalist Garbiñe Muguruza and Elina Svitolina en route. After spending the five-month COVID shutdown getting even fitter, Brady emerged competition-ready in Lexington.
Jennifer Brady won 93.0% of her service games en route to capturing her 1st WTA title @TopSeedTennisKY.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 17, 2020
Brady’s serving performance ranks among one of the best by a title winner in the last 12 years. She was broken only 3 times, winning 40 of her 43 service games. pic.twitter.com/nnawspipMu
The American joined the WTA Insider Podcast after her triumphant run to discuss her surprising decision to shake up her pre-season routine and why she considers herself a 'whole different player' as a result. Hear her full interview here.
WTA Insider: Congratulations on your first WTA title and a dominant week in Lexington. You didn't lose a set and lost serve just three times through the week. How does it feel?
Brady: Thank you so much. I'm super, super stoked, really happy, really happy about the achievement here at home on American soil. Nothing greater. Just really happy.
WTA Insider: You made your Top 100 debut in 2017. Before that, you had played collegiate tennis at UCLA before turning pro. Once you broke into the Top 100 you were hovering around the Top 60 for the last few years. For your off-season this year, you packed your bags to do your training in Regensburg, Germany with your new coach Michael Geserer. Can you talk about that decision? It's very rare to see an American player do their pre-season outside the States.
Brady: Yeah, definitely something that has shocked many people that know me. I'm a homebody. I like to stay at home. A lot of people enjoy staying at home, something comfortable. I like to know my surroundings, be comfortable with my surroundings.
To go to Germany after only really just meeting my coach just for a few weeks just before that, and not even knowing my trainer yet. I think that was something that -- I'm still shocked that I did it, but I think it was the best decision I've ever made. Committing to something, a change. I needed a change.
I needed something that I was uncomfortable with. I needed somebody who knew what it was like at the top level to coach somebody at the top level. I'm super grateful to both of them and everything that we've gotten so far.
WTA Insider: You really seemed to buy into their system immediately, both in your off-court training with Daniel and of course the on-court with Michael. You've always said you're very low-key and flexible and that they brought structure to your training. How important has that structure been for you?
Brady: I've always been super easy to coach. I never really talked back to my coaches. I've always respected every single one of my coaches. It was just how I was brought up. I always do what I've been told. Whether I believed in it or not, I just did it.
Recently I've gotten a lot better at expressing my opinions and also getting feedback on my own opinions, whereas before I would kind of just always just say, yes, yes. Just a 'Yes Woman'. I never thought otherwise.
I respect both Michael and Daniel very, very highly. They're very professional in what they do. They believe in what they do and they definitely bring positivity and good energy to every single one of our sessions. I love spending time on-court and off-court, with Daniel and Michael, and I really look forward to continuing that.
WTA Insider: You started the year so well and that's the best possible reward for that sacrifice and hard work. You beat Maria Sharapova in three tough sets in Brisbane and you followed that up by beating Ash Barty in Brisbane. You followed that up in Dubai, making the semifinals and defeating Garbiñe Muguruza and Elina Svitolina. At what point this season did you feel like this would be a breakout year?
Brady: Honestly, I don't know if I really thought about it like that. It's more just taking each match as is. Just playing each match the same, showing up, believing in myself, competing until the very end, and just trying to get better and enjoying competing, enjoying the time that I have on court, being able to compete.
It gives me chills knowing that I'll be Top 40 and maybe seeded at the U.S. Open. Yeah. It gives me chills knowing that. It's very big.
WTA Insider: Obviously you have to put all that work during the pre-season onto the court. How different are you playing now compared to last year?
Brady: I think I'm a whole different player. Honestly, I don't feel like I have the same weaknesses. I don't feel like I have big holes in my game. And I'm continuing to get better, which is even better. I can only keep getting better. I think I still have a lot more to go.
I've gotten so much fitter on the court. I'm able to play at a high intensity, high level for the whole match. I think that's something that has definitely stood out.
Knowing and having the confidence that I can perform to the best of my ability from the first point until the very end is something that I haven't felt in the past. I felt like I'd gone in and out mentally and physically. Not having the confidence of being able to stay there or having the confidence of hanging with the top players.
In Brisbane, I was able to practice with five of the Top 10 players thanks to Michael. Even just hitting with them and practicing with them and just playing practice points, this is something that helps immensely. Knowing that, OK, I can hang with these players. If not, at some point I can be better than these players if I just play my game.
I don't have to do anything spectacular, I don't have to hit the ball bigger. I don't have to try to go for shots that I don't have. Just play my game and trust my game and know that if I'm able to execute my game that I'm giving myself the best opportunity to win the match.
WTA Insider: You have a unique game on the women's tour. You have the big serve, your forehand is so heavy. The question was whether Jenny Brady could do that consistently in a rally, in a match. What's so different now is yes you can. Today in the final, it never looked like you were panicking in rallies or bailing out of rallies. How much more comfortable do you feel in these rallies?
Brady: Yeah, I've definitely gotten a lot stronger, even over the past four months. I made my own little garage gym at home, so I had some weights and I was able to train and get stronger and get fitter.
That's always been something that in the back of my head has always lingered in matches, where I felt like maybe I'm able to hit bigger than the other opponent, but not for a long period of time. In matches it's only five games or six games and not the course of two full sets if not three full sets.
A lot of these girls are really fit. Knowing that I am extremely fit right now, like, one rally doesn't bother me. I don't get gassed. I don't get fatigued. Knowing that I can even go a little bit higher with intensity here and there, I think is something that I have a lot of confidence in going through the matches.
WTA Insider: As you head to New York for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, how much confidence do you take into those two events?
Brady: It's definitely an increase. With every win you get, I think there is an increase in confidence.
I'm just really looking forward to going to New York and competing again. Another opportunity to compete. Over the next few days, I'll be working and getting better and hopefully continuing to just play good tennis and just enjoy it.