NEW YORK, NY, USA - Jennifer Brady’s breakthrough summer continued in New York City as the American booked her first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open after fighting past Yulia Putintseva in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
“Coming into the match today, honestly I was feeling like I was going to poop my pants, but I was very nervous,” Brady told press afterwards. “I just tried to really stay calm and, like, keep it cool as a cucumber out there.”
Before the tour’s five-month break, Brady was in the midst of a career-best season that saw her record her first Top 10 win over World No.1 Ashleigh Barty and make deep runs to the quarterfinal in Brisbane and semifinal in Dubai.
Brady credited her newfound consistency to the off-season work she did with new coach Michael Geserer: the American trained with him in Germany instead of spending the time off back home in the United States.
“I decided if I want to give myself an opportunity to maximize my potential and see how far I can get as a tennis player, I think I have to make a change,” Brady said. “Because [my new coach and trainer] were based out of Germany, I decided, Okay, I'll go to Germany.”
The gamble paid off as Brady lifted her first WTA trophy last month in Lexington, her first tournament of the tour’s restart, and won the title without dropping a set.
Brady’s booming serve and heavy forehand have proved to be a lethal combination during the US Open fortnight, too. She has yet to drop a set all tournament long, taking down the likes of Caroline Garcia and No.17 seed and former champion Angelique Kerber along the way to her first major quarterfinal.
“Three years can make a huge difference,” Brady said, reflecting on her last match on Ashe: a 2017 rout at the hands of Karolina Pliskova that lasted under an hour. “I think I have matured. I definitely have gotten a lot fitter, I feel a lot stronger out on court, have a lot more confidence in myself and my game.
“I know what I'm doing out there. I believe in myself, my game, that I'm good enough to win matches and to be at this level and to be where I am today.”
She showed no signs of slowing down as she took the court on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Putintseva, racing ahead to an early double break lead, 4-0. Putintseva couldn’t find her rhythm against Brady, but did her best to extend the length of the rallies to keep her opponent running. A smart dropshot earned Putintseva break points, and the Kazakh narrowed the gap to 4-2.
But Brady’s big serve was back to bail her out, and she held off Putintseva to serve out the set, 6-3. She kept the momentum rolling with an early break in the opening set, racing out to a 2- lead. Putintseva kept fighting, breaking back to level at 2-2, but she couldn’t keep Brady under pressure as she responded emphatically to reel off the next four consecutive games and close out the match, 6-3, 6-2 to secure the victory.
“I think in the fourth game I was serving, and I really started to feel my legs… it kind of helped me a little bit,” Brady said. “I just started thinking about that, and I was, Oh, I'm not feeling great, whatever. It kind of took my mind off the match a little bit.”
“And then I was able to recover and really focus in and think, okay, well, I'm up 4-2. How has the match been going? I have been winning points when I'm playing aggressive tennis but not overplaying,” Brady continued. “So, you know, I was kind of, ‘Okay if I just continue that and take it one point at a time, I can at least, you know, put myself in a position to serve for the set if I just continue to just, you know, play my game.’ And then I was able to do that.”
Brady has now lost just 24 games en route to the semifinals, already the fewest of anyone left in the draw. She had previously dropped the fewest games en route to a title in 2020 during her run to the Lexington trophy, also with 24.
She now awaits the winner between No.4 seed Naomi Osaka and American Shelby Rogers, who will take the court later today in the day’s second quarterfinal.