Jennifer Brady has been on cruise control all week in Lexington, and her smooth road continued on Saturday with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Coco Gauff. The American has spent an average of 67 minutes on court each match.
Saturday marked the world No. 49’s fourth straight-set win after taking out Heather Watson, Magda Linette and Maria Bouzkova. Against Gauff, Brady needed the most time so far, 70 minutes, to advance to her first career WTA final. She has appeared in the final of a WTA 125K Series before, in Indian Wells last year.
Brady and Gauff had never faced off before but the elder American executed her game plan with no hiccups against the 16-year-old. If anyone’s not going to be fazed by the task of taking on a teenage phenom, it’s Brady. A self-proclaimed introvert, Brady is very good at focusing on the task at hand and tuning out the noise, even the lack of noise at the fan-less Top Seed Open.
It also helped that the 25-year-old’s serve was on fire, hitting eight aces across the two quick sets.
"Her serve is great," Gauff said. "She hits her targets really well. In particular today she was hitting both her serves pretty well. She’s definitely Top 5 on my list [of best servers], at least of people I've played so far."
"I've been working a little bit on all aspects of the serve mainly the stroke and the timing of the serve," Brady said. "More technique, things like that. If I’m able to serve well I’m able to start the point aggressive and start in my favor."
Looking fitter than ever, Brady trained during the shutdown and played a few exhibitions before getting in a full season of World TeamTennis in West Virginia.
"I've been working really hard since the beginning of the year," Brady said. "I've been putting in a lot of hours on the practice court and in the gym."
While her team, the Orange County Breakers, didn’t make the playoffs, Brady got in reps on both the singles and doubles court. She started slow, dropping her first three singles matches, but ended on a three-match win streak complete with a victory over world No. 4 Sofia Kenin. Her confidence grew with each week of the season leading up to Kentucky.
"I think just getting any type of match play in [helps], even though it was only one set to five games, it's a little different to a full match, " Brady said. "But just having those competitive juices [going] and getting that experience before coming here I think helps a lot."
This week, Brady has gotten to reignite the level of play she had at the start of the season. Pre-shutdown, she scored wins over Ashleigh Barty, Maria Sharapova, Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina on her way to the quarterfinals of? Brisbane and Dubai.
"I was playing well," Brady said. "I had a great off-season. I was coming in with a lot of confidence and I was able to just continue. It's just bringing positivity every day, working hard and just enjoying the process."
Brady had been working with German Michael Geserer, the former coach of Julia Gorges. After a five-month shutdown, they've finally reunited this week.
"Something that we as a team enjoy bringing every day is positivity," Brady said. "He's such a great guy, great coach. He was sending me daily practice plans, I think that was exceptional and something that I definitely was very happy about. Us coming back together here after a few months I think it's not really starting from scratch, it's more building up from where we left off."
She'll hope their reunion week ends with her first career WTA trophy on Sunday. Her opponent in the final, Jil Teichmann, has also not lost a set in Lexington.