Jennifer Brady reaches US Open semifinals after a trip to Germany

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Brady overpowered Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-2 in just over an hour in New York, a continuation of her outstanding form since tennis restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 28th seed claimed her first title in Lexington, Kentucky, last month and has won 10 of her last 11 matches. Her serve and forehand are among the most powerful on tour.

All 10 of those victories have come in straight sets, with not even a hint of a tiebreaker in sight. Only three players have managed to win four games in a set against the 25-year-old, who was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before attending UCLA, where she was coached by the sister of Pete Sampras, Stella.

The last former female collegiate player to reach this stage of the US Open was Lori McNeil in 1987.

Brady lives in Orlando, Florida — home to the USTA’s national campus — but has been working with a German coach, Michael Geserer, and his team since the end of 2019.

For an American player, she took the unusual step of training in Europe in the offseason, going to Geserer’s base in Regensburg, north of Munich.

The move led to an upturn, as, even before the US Open, Brady beat Maria Sharapova and current world No. 1, Ashleigh Barty, in Brisbane, Australia, prior to testing two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep at the Australian Open during the Australian summer.

“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 told reporters in a Zoom call on Tuesday. “Because they were based out of Germany, I decided, ‘OK, I’ll go to Germany.’ I had no problem with that.

“I was looking forward to it, something different, out of the box, different from the usual staying at home and training in Florida.”

“So, I went over to Germany and trained indoors in the winter,” added Brady, who next meets either 2018 champion Naomi Osaka or unseeded American Shelby Rogers. “I was a little concerned about that, playing indoors in the cold weather before going to Australia, but honestly, it really didn’t make much of a difference. Really happy with the decision.”

She credited her new team, which also includes fitness trainer Daniel Pohl, for bringing out the best in her game. Asked what role Geserer played in her newfound success, Brady indeed said “all of it.”

“And my trainer, getting me a lot fitter, stronger,” she said. “And then also knowing what to do with my game, having a clear game plan on every single match that I go out there and I know what I have to do in order to win the match, having good execution and, yeah, just playing within myself but playing aggressive tennis.”

In turn, Geserer — who connected with Brady through Billy Heiser, the coach of Pennsylvania native Alison Riske — said he was impressed with how Brady applied herself in Germany.

She quickly adapted to her new surroundings, helped by attending Geserer’s 50th birthday party.

Rode a bike

“She didn’t come to a foreign country,” Geserer said in a Zoom call with reporters this week. “She knew me already and I introduced her to Daniel, and she knew (physiotherapist) Florian (Zitzelsberger).

“I had my 50th birthday during that time so she met a few more people so she almost knows the whole city. She had a bike and she was driving around with a bike. It was relatively easy. I think she liked it also, the size of the town and going around with the bike.”

Brady topped a German Grand Slam winner in the previous round, Angelique Kerber, and another German, fifth-seed Alexander Zverev, continued his quest for a first Grand Slam title by beating 27th seed Borna Coric 1-6 7-6 (5) 7-6 (1) 6-3 later Tuesday.

He thus overcame a 1-3 record against Coric, although the Croatian will be lamenting his missed chances.

Coric led by a set and 4-3, 40-15 on serve in the second. Costly unforced errors were his undoing, particularly in the tiebreakers. Zverev gets either Denis Shapovalov or Pablo Carreno Busta in the last four.

It’s virtually anyone’s game in the men’s draw after the default Sunday of overwhelming favorite Novak Djokovic. A new Grand Slam men’s winner will be crowned for the first time since Marin Cilic in 2014.

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