Australian Open: Brady thinks two-week hard quarantine helped her make semi-final run

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A second straight grand slam semi-final appearance for Jennifer Brady may have had its roots in being cooped up in a hotel for two weeks.

Jennifer Brady believes a two-week hard quarantine upon arriving in Australia helped her make a run to the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

As one of the 72 Australian Open entrants that had potentially been exposed to Covid-19 on chartered flights to Melbourne, Brady was forced to stay in a hotel room for a fortnight ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.

However, the 25-year-old booked her place in the final four on Wednesday by coming from behind to defeat Jessica Pegula 4-6 6-2 6-1 in an hour and 40 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. While some players voiced their displeasure with the conditions they were faced with in self-isolation, Brady felt the period served her well.

“I was pretty much going non-stop since June of last year. I was playing World Team Tennis, then played tournaments in the US, then went over to Europe and was training in Europe till December,” Brady said.

“I didn’t have any weeks off. Mentally I was feeling a little bit fried, to be honest. I think I used that two weeks to kind of reset mentally and also physically, just give myself, my mind, my body a little bit of a rest. I would say I didn’t really have high expectations on myself to do well. I came out of the quarantine, and then we were lucky enough to have a separate tournament for us who were in the hard lockdown. I was lucky to get a couple matches in there before starting here in the Australian Open.”

Jennifer Brady

The 22nd seed will take on Karolina Muchova in the last four, the Czech having stunned world No 1 Ash Barty earlier in the day. In the other half of the draw, Serena Williams will take on Naomi Osaka.

Brady hopes to get an opportunity to challenge herself against 39-year-old Williams, who is chasing a record-equalling 24th major singles title.

“I think just being in the same draw as Serena is obviously… when she retires, if she retires, it’s going to be something I’ll be extremely grateful for. I hope I get to play her before she retires,” she said. I think she’s the GOAT. She’s the greatest of all time and definitely will be the greatest of all time.”

Brady made her first grand slam semi-final appearance at last year’s US Open, when Williams and Osaka were also in the final four. She suffered a three-set loss to Osaka on that occasion, but she is pleased to be performing on a par with the Japanese and Williams.

“I think it says a lot,” she said. “They’re obviously great, great tennis players, champions of the sport. To be categorised in the same group as them, I’ll take that as an honour. I think it’s a huge achievement for me to make the semi-finals here. I look to make the finals, so we’ll see.”

Only Muchova stands between Brady and a first major final and fans will be able to attend after lockdown was lifted in Victoria, with a crowd of 7,477 – approximately 50 per cent capacity – allowed for each session.

Brady said of her next opponent: “She’s crafty. She looks to move forward, has an all-court game. She’s really athletic. I hope it will be a good, competitive match. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”

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