NEW YORK (Reuters) – American Jennifer Brady said working on her mental approach has been a “huge game changer” as she reached the quarter-final of a Grand Slam for the first time at Flushing Meadows on Sunday.
Brady claimed a straight-sets win over 2016 champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round of the U.S. Open, putting up a fearless performance that earned enormous praise from commentators.
But behind her aggressive style of play, Brady said she’s worked hard to develop a mental calm.
“At times I can get pretty frustrated with myself on court. Recently I have just been going on court with not putting expectations on myself to perform well but instead to just focus on what I can control and just competing on every single point,” she said.
The 25-year-old, less than a month removed from clinching her first WTA title at Lexington, said she spent the coronavirus quarantine strolling her neighborhood “a couple hours here and there, pretty much every day,” a meditative practice she developed to keep herself off the couch and Instagram.
Reflecting on her early career, she wasn’t entirely prepared for the level of success she achieved at the Grand Slam level in 2017, when she reached the fourth round of both the Australian Open and the U.S. Open.
“Honestly, I didn’t really believe that I belonged at that level or that it was achievable for me,” she said. “This year, starting the beginning of the year, I felt like a different player.
“I’m not putting expectations on myself but also not surprised when I’m doing well at a tournament.”
She will take on Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva in the next round of the tournament, amid a wide open women’s field that is without defending champion Bianca Andreescu and world number one Ash Barty. Putintseva has triumphed in both of their prior meetings.
“Right now the women’s game is so deep. Anybody can win a major,” said Brady. “It’s just a matter of, you know, how the draw really pans out.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Frances Kerry)