By Richard Pagliaro
Serving a 14-day hard quarantine in Melbourne last month, Jennifer Brady couldn’t even open her hotel-room window for fresh air.
In the aftermath of her 6-4, 6-3 loss to Naomi Osaka in today’s Australian Open final, Brady believes she has a window of opportunity to master a major.
This trip to her first major final has instilled a major sense of self-belief in Brady, who calls winning a Grand Slam title “totally achievable.”
“I think I belong at this level,” Brady said. “I think winning a Grand Slam is totally achievable. It’s within reach. You know, playing out there, obviously I was nervous, 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, like, going to Mars. So I would say just being more comfortable at this level, yeah.”
The 25-year-old American will rise to a career-high rank of No. 13 on Monday and while she’s not putting a timetable on her major aspirations, Brady believes she has the game to win a Grand Slam.
“I’m not one to set a date for things, but I would say it would just happen when it happens,” Brady said. “I’m not planning for it to happen at Wimbledon, you know, 2021. Yeah, it will happen when it happens. When it happens, I’ll be thrilled. When I’m put in that position or given myself that opportunity, I think I’ll be ready for it.”
Understandably, nerves were a factor for finals debutant Brady. On a breezy day inside Rod Laver Arena, both Brady and Osaka served just 48 percent.
The third-seeded Osaka backed up her first and second serves more effectively and repeatedly battered Brady’s weaker backhand wing on pivotal points.
Still, Brady can draw confidence from the fact she bounced back from hard quarantine that prevented her from practicing for two weeks, didn’t serve her best in either the semifinal or final yet still battled through and held a break point at 4-all in the final today. Had she converted, Brady would have served for the opening set.
Instead, she aims to build on the experience, bolster her backhand wing and reload for another major run.
“I have clearly had some great results over the past six months or — more than that, eight months. I think,” Brady said. “I can only get better from here. I just have to take, especially this experience from the last two, couple slams and just work harder and keep improving day in, day out.
“And, yeah, I think the results, they show, you know, the work you have been putting in. Yeah, I can gain a lot of confidence in that.”
Photo credit: Australian Open Facebook