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February 18, 2021

Jennifer Brady

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

J. BRADY/K. Muchova

6-4, 3-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did playing a Grand Slam semifinal in front of fans differ from playing a Grand Slam semifinal with no fans?

JENNIFER BRADY: I think it added a little bit of extra nerves, a little bit of extra pressure, just wanting to perform well in front of people.

I think, you know, also I was thinking a little bit about the celebration and hearing, you know, everyone applauding, I think maybe I lost a little bit of the focus that I had before maybe with no fans.

Q. How did the actual celebration live up to your visualization?

JENNIFER BRADY: Well, it took a lot longer than I hoped for. There were a lot of extra points that I really planned to play, but, yeah, I mean, I was just so nervous. I couldn't feel my legs. My arms were shaking. I was just hoping she would miss and she didn't, and she was playing more aggressive.

Then I would say I started rambling, mumbling on and on and on and on. It was just point by point, point by point, and eventually I was able to close it out.

And to have the fans there is just a different atmosphere. Even if it was first round, to have the fans there cheering, it's just more emotional.

Q. You seemed a bit flatfooted early in the match. Do you know why that might have been the case?

JENNIFER BRADY: No. I felt good in the warmup, felt good physically. I still feel good physically after the match. I think it was just maybe just nerves and also just maybe a little bit mentally, not 100% there.

I was just thinking about, you know, the occasion and the end result. Yeah, just getting a little bit ahead of myself, so I think then I wasn't really able to focus on how I wanted to play and use my legs and be physical out there.

Q. Picking up on that about thinking about the occasion, do you anticipate having to go through that in the first couple of games on Saturday night and dealing with it? Also, along the same lines, you talk about not being able to feel your legs and arms and goose bumps, how do you play tennis when you can't feel your legs and your arms are shaking?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, it's pretty tough (smiling). It's not easy. You know, I started the game well. I had two aces. Then I was, like, Okay, let's pull out here, Jenny, let's keep it rolling. You know, just do more.

Then I got up to 40-15, and I like hyped up the crowd, and then I was, like, Oh, I put a little bit of extra pressure on myself there. I just got so nervous and I wasn't able to find a first serve or to make a first serve and play the way that I wanted to play. I was just pushing the ball and, like I said, just hoping she would miss.

Then she was able to step up and play more aggressive, so I wasn't really able to play the way I wanted to. I wasn't able to play to win.

Yeah, I think on Saturday I'll definitely come out and I'll definitely be nervous 100%, but there is no hiding it. I just have to embrace it and enjoy the moment.

Q. First Grand Slam final. Can you pick out two or three moments from, I don't know, your childhood or early adulthood of where someone believed in you or you had a real breakthrough that led you to this moment that actually got to the point where you thought, I can make it to the very top?

JENNIFER BRADY: Well, I would say throughout my junior career, you know, all the coaches that I had, I was training at the Evert Tennis Academy and they were always telling me, you know, I had potential to be a great tennis player.

But it was just finding my game and finding -- you know, I had a bit of a temper as a kid. Wasn't really mentally the toughest. So I think that has kind of just shifted my whole career, just being able to stay in tough moments, close out tough matches, just fight my way back regardless of the score.

Yeah, I mean, I was told, like I said, my whole junior career that I have a good forehand, good serve. I just needed to put the two things together and, you know, now I have.

Q. When did you really believe it?

JENNIFER BRADY: I would say probably last year, because the start of the year I had some good wins, I was practicing with the top players. Once I was able to see, okay, they don't really hit the ball much bigger than I do, they don't do anything super spectacular compared to what I do, so I can do the same (smiling).

Q. Do you have a bit of an affinity with Australia? I think you at some stage mentioned about the Brisbane International, how that was really a confidence-boosting win and maybe a good turning point in your career?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, I love playing in Australia. It feels like home to me. It's very similar to America, I feel.

Yeah, I think everyone looks forward to coming to Australia, especially the beginning of the year, the Australian summer. It's the most exciting.

For me, I mean, Brisbane is one of my top five favorite tournaments. I don't know why. It just feels like home. I think it's the conditions. A little bit more humid there, similar to Florida. I play good tennis in Australia.

Yeah, I think I feel really comfortable here.

Q. It's a two-part question about your semifinal against Naomi last year. She described it today as one of her most memorable matches. And coming from a three-time Grand Slam champion, that feels like a huge compliment. That experience, will that help you to soak in the moment and be a little bit more relaxed in Saturday's environment?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah. Listen, I don't know how I'm gonna feel on Saturday. I can say I can enjoy the moment and just try to play tennis and not really think too much about it, but there's gonna be moments, there's gonna be games, there's gonna be points where I'm going to be thinking about, Wow, this could be my first Grand Slam title.

Yeah, I will definitely have those thoughts. But it's more just trying to control the emotions, really.

Yeah, I think we both played a really good semifinal match at the US Open. Unfortunately there were no fans, but the next time we play there will be fans. So I think that's going to be something that's going to be extremely exciting.

Q. The third set of that match, I think you were serving and you were, like, at 15-40 and hit a ball that it turned out it was in, they called it out, and you didn't challenge.

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, I heard about that.

Q. Are there moments like that from that match that you've thought about in the last few months?

JENNIFER BRADY: Not really. Yeah, I didn't challenge the ball. You know, people after came up and, Wow, you should have challenged the ball. I think my coach was, like, trying to tell me, Challenge the ball. I was, like, I'm not gonna challenge the ball. The ball was out.

But, yeah, if it was in, you never know. It could have been a turning point maybe or I still would have lost the match. You never know. I can't really make excuses.

But, no, I haven't thought about it or I don't have -- you know, it doesn't keep me up at night.

Q. Are you glad you don't have to worry about that now with the system in place here?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, yeah. I think with the electronic line calling, you know, there is no, Okay, maybe that ball was out, maybe that ball was in. Yeah.

Q. What is your oldest memory about Naomi, in person or watching her on TV or whatever?

JENNIFER BRADY: Actually, we grew up playing junior local tournaments in Florida. Both her and her sister I played in the juniors, local, like, Super Series events, just like USTA-sanctioned tournaments.

I remember playing her in this tournament, it may have been like a lower-level challenger event. I think she was just coming up maybe inside the top 200, and I remember playing her. I was, like, Wow, she hits the ball huge. She's gonna be good.

I mean, I was, like, Okay, she's got something special (smiling).

Q. Do you remember something from the match, Naomi and Serena's final in the US Open final three years ago?

JENNIFER BRADY: No, actually I didn't watch the match, so I don't remember anything. Yeah, sorry.

Q. Spending two weeks in lockdown, how did you find your time? Are you a binge watcher? What series do you watch? Did you have a set meal you looked forward to every day? How did you spend your time?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, I ordered -- I mean, the first day I got there I had grocery delivery, so I had oats delivered. Every morning I would have oats, oatmeal, and then I would actually order Uber Eats for lunch and dinner every single day, so I didn't eat one of the meals that were provided. I ordered Hunky Dory the first seven days, every single day, sometimes twice a day.

I'm a creature of habit, so I eat pretty much the same thing every single day. Yeah, I would order there and other -- there were three places I would mix it up between. But I actually didn't -- I didn't watch one Netflix series just because I knew if I started something then I wouldn't want to do anything else except just lay in bed and watch Netflix.

I actually spent a lot of time on FaceTime. I was FaceTiming lot with other players that were in the quarantine, Sloane Stephens. I was Face Timing every single day with Anett and Maria. We had like a group Face Time. That made the time go by really quick.

Yeah, I think it was more just trying to stay positive and know that there is worse things out there than being in a room.

Q. When that last point was played today, what was the first thing that came into your mind? Was it, I won a tight semifinal? Or, I have reached my first major final?

JENNIFER BRADY: I reached my first final. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, that's all I was thinking about the last game serving. I was, like, Okay, let's zone in here and I'm in the finals.

I wasn't thinking about how good of a match or how tight the score was in the semifinals. I was just looking ahead into the finals.

Q. Did your twin sister play tennis? Do you come from a tennis family?

JENNIFER BRADY: No, definitely not. She played when we were younger, but she gave up. She's a nerd. She studies. She's in medical school. So she has the brains and I have the athletic genes. Yeah.

Q. It was a little late back in the U.S. when you were playing, but have you received a lot of texts from people back home? Have you heard from Chris Evert and, like, what role does she continue to serve for you?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, I received a lot of messages, and I plan to respond to every single one (smiling). I just haven't responded yet.

Yeah, Chrissie messages me every now and then a lot. She is somebody who has seen me since I was 10, 11 years old. So she's probably known me the longest out here.

Yeah, it's awesome to have someone like her in your corner, supporting you and cheering for you. And I definitely respect her and I appreciate everything that she's done for me.

Q. Going into the final, will the US Open match semifinal match come into your mind at all in considering what an outrageously incredible match it was? Is that something that you could focus on or not?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yes and no. Yes, I think I can take away the positives from that match and learn maybe what I did wrong that, you know, I wasn't able to come away with the result.

But also no, because I also don't want to compare matches or compare performances and try to replicate that, because every match is different.

Q. Do you feel like you're a more evolved player since that match? It wasn't very long ago, but in terms of taking on Naomi again, do you feel like you've got a really good game plan of how to beat her this time?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, I think so. I'll discuss with my coach the day of the match or tomorrow evening, just to review things that went well or things that didn't go so well in the last time that we played and try to come up with a good tactical plan.

Q. When we spoke after the third round, you admitted you were a bit surprised after having been in hard quarantine 14 days to have made it into the second week of the tournament because maybe expectations could have been lower potentially after that sort of setback. At any point during those 14 days would you ever imagine you'd be in a final? If not, then when did you sort of start letting yourself believe this could be possible after starting way behind the starting line that you could be winning this race?

JENNIFER BRADY: No. No, even before quarantine, yeah, I didn't, didn't think I would be where I am right now, sitting in this podium answering your question. No, probably not (smiling).

Q. Let me ask a follow-up on that. You had zero thought that you could be sitting here today before this tournament, even before the quarantine, you said, ready for a final. Just wondering, at what point did that change, or did it not and you're in a little bit of disbelief sitting here right now?

JENNIFER BRADY: I mean, I wouldn't say I'm in disbelief. You know, I have definitely been practicing hard. I think I have earned the right to be sitting here, to be playing in a final, in a Grand Slam final on Saturday.

Most definitely, you know, I have put in a lot of work, and I just think it's crazy to believe -- like you just look at even watching a Grand Slam final, you look at two players and you're, like, Wow, that's awesome that they're in the final.

You don't think about what it feels like if you were in that situation, so I think just that, just it's the tails have turned and I'm here. I'm in that situation.

Q. I wanted to ask you about your experience playing Naomi in New York and how you would describe what it's like to play her. Is there anyone else you have played that you would compare her to?

JENNIFER BRADY: I don't think there is anyone that I would compare her to that I have played, not that I can think of.

She just puts a lot of pressure on you to serve well, because she's holding serve in, like, 45 seconds. Yeah, she's serving well. She's coming at you with a lot of power, so it also puts a lot of pressure on you to be aggressive and try to get the first strike. Otherwise you're the one running, and I don't want to be running.

So I think she just puts a lot of pressure on you to perform well. So I think, you know, I have to think about that but also not put that pressure on myself to perform well.

Q. Last year you made quite a huge commitment of being away from home from July to December. Throughout that period, did you think at all in any moment like I really want to go home, or is this really worth it at all, or any of these dark thoughts? And how did you get out of them? How much did that commitment contribute to where you are today?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, actually, I was playing in Ostrava, Czech Republic. I was, like, during the whole match, I was, like, I just want to go back home. I want to go back to America. I want to sleep in my own bed. I want to just wake up in my house in Orlando.

Then I talked to my team and I was, like, Look, like, after this tournament or after whatever, I'm, like, I need to go home. They're like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course, whatever you need.

Then it was, like, Australian Open, everyone needs to leave by the second week of December. I was, like, I can't go home. I need to train. So I didn't go home and then the plans changed. Australian Open was pushed back later, and then eventually I was able to go home for three weeks before coming here.

Q. How much do you think that commitment helped you reach where you are today?

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, I think without making that sacrifice of, you know -- once you become too comfortable, I think that's when you're in trouble. So I think for me going over and training in Germany, you know, at times I might be, like, Okay, I wish I was home. But other times, I'm like, Okay, it's worth it. I have to do what I have to do to become the best tennis player right now and then afterwards I can live my life.

Q. The other day you were talking about how going to UCLA kind of was the moment that made you realize that you wanted to be a tennis player, that your relationship with the sport and love of the sport maybe changed. I'm curious, up until that point, what was your relationship with the sport? You made it sound like you kind of didn't like being a tennis player necessarily until it clicked and you did. That seemed like such a late part of your life to realize that at 18, 19.

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, I don't think I really just appreciated the opportunities that I had with the sport. I was just going about, you know, just doing the same thing every day, not really taking a step back and enjoying what I was doing.

I was just doing it because I had to, because I had nothing else to do because I didn't know what else to do except for, you know, going and practicing five hours a day and, you know, just waking up, doing it all over again for, I don't know, my whole junior career.

So I think in that aspect I didn't really enjoy the sport. And also, I didn't really have great success in the juniors. I wasn't really winning many matches, so that also takes a hit at your confidence, because the other juniors my age were doing really well and having success and having early success in the pros and, you know, playing challenger events and winning them and doing really well. And then I wasn't even passing first, second round of qualifying.

That was really hard for me, just all my confidence and my game. I took a hit there and thought, okay, maybe I'm not, you know, meant for this sport. Maybe I'm not good enough. I'll go to college for four years and then I'll find a real job.

Q. Going off of the other question about these sacrifices and stuff, the discipline that it takes to not binge watch Netflix while you're in quarantine or to go to Germany, things like that, where do you think that that comes from for you? Because we have seen a lot of players, particularly American players, maybe not be able to, I don't know, want to be uncomfortable when comfort is right there, a plane ride away or a click away or something.

JENNIFER BRADY: Yeah, I think it comes from my coach, Michael, and my trainer, Daniel. Just having the trust in them, knowing that the time that I spend with them I have my full trust in them, knowing that we're just doing our best every day, just trying to make me as good a tennis player as possible.

So I think just knowing that I'm making a sacrifice for a reason and it's going to pay off, and I think it has.

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