Brady on Australian Open run:
'I think I belong at this level'
Victoria Chiesa | February 20, 2021
Despite coming away from the Australian Open as the beaten finalist, American Jennifer Brady is hoping to use a breakthrough Grand Slam tournament to reach event greater heights.
"I think I belong at this level. I think winning a Grand Slam is totally achievable. It's within reach," Brady said after a 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Naomi Osaka in Saturday's final.
"Playing out there, obviously, I was nervous, [it] didn't go my way, but at the same time coming off court, I was, like, 'Okay, that feels a little bit normal.' It felt different than what I was expecting it to feel like. If you were to ask me maybe a year ago, I wouldn't think it's possible or it would feel like it's going to Mars.
"I would say it was exciting to be out there. You know, I enjoyed every single minute playing in front of fans in my first Grand Slam final, and I hope there is many more."ADVERTISEMENT
After coming from a break down early, Brady stayed even with the former world No. 1 for much of the opening set, but missed chances cost her in the end. Unable to convert a break point at in the ninth game which would've allowed her to serve for the set, Brady also lost her own serve from 40-15 ahead in the next game.
Ultimately, Osaka won six straight games from 4-4 to take control of the match, and recorded the win in one hour and 17 minutes. The No. 3 seed sealed the championship with an emphatic hold at love, converting match point with a strong serve down the 'T' that the American's forehand couldn't handle.
"I thin, both of us I'm sure were nervous. I was definitely especially nervous, I knew I was going to be nervous. But towards the middle of the first set I started to get a little bit more comfortable and then I just didn't feel like I was playing my best tennis out there, which is unfortunate," Brady said.
"She played really well when she had to. She hit good shots when she needed them. In those moments, that's the toughest time to find those shots... to put you on defense when it's the big moments. And just to serve out the match like that, you know, she did that also in New York against me. She obviously has confidence in her serve and serving out matches and playing high-risk tennis when it matters. It's tough to face."
Despite the loss, Brady will make her Top 20 debut in the WTA rankings on Monday at No. 13. Ranked No. 24 coming into the event, she was the fifth woman ranked outside Top 20 to reach the final at Melbourne Park since 2000. The events of the past fortnight added to Brady's personal history Down Under: in her Australian Open main-draw debut in 2017, she reached the fourth round as a qualifier, making her the first American female qualifier to reach the round of 16 in Open era.
"I'm pretty proud of myself, my team, for what we achieved here. We came here and I reached my first Grand Slam final. But also, I'm walking away with the runner-up trophy, not the winner's trophy, so that's a little bit sad," Brady said. "But I would say I'm pretty happy with my performance over the past couple weeks.
"I have clearly had some great results over the past six months or -- more than that, eight months. I think I can only get better from here. I just have to take... especially this experience from the last two, couple of Slams and just work harder and keep improving day in, day out. I think the results, they show the work you have been putting in. I can gain a lot of confidence in that."