Brady blitzes Gauff to reach Lexington final

Jennifer Brady brought Coco Gauff’s impressive run at the Top Seed Open presented by Bluegrass Orthopaedics in Lexington, Kentucky, to a halt in Saturday’s semi-finals and booked her first WTA final spot.

I was playing well. 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. Jennifer Brady

Thanks to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over compatriot Coco Gauff, the 25-year-old American has previously lost three times at the semi-final stage, but was largely dominant over the course of 71 minutes to break new ground in her career.

“I’ve been working really hard since the beginning of the year. I’ve been putting in a lot of hours on the practice courts and in the gym, and hopefully, everything just falls into place,” Brady said after the match.

“Reaching a final at any tournament, I think, is a great opportunity. I’ve given myself the best opportunity, and hopefully, I come out and play well tomorrow.”

In the other half of the draw, Jil Teichmann has quietly made her way to the final with another straight set win Shelby Rogers, 6-3 6-2.

The 23-year-old has not lost a set all week, posting dominant wins over Anna Kalinskaya, Yulia Putintseva and CiCi Bellis.

“I don’t have an answer for that why I don’t lose any sets,” Teichmann said. “I just feel very good. I’m playing very consistent. I feel great on court. I guess that’s the main reason.”

The outdoor, hard court tournament in Lexington marks the first WTA event in the United States since the coronavirus outbreak forced a hiatus and upended the professional sports calendar.

World No 49 Brady used a powerful serve to her advantage over Gauff at the fan-less event, firing off 8 aces and winning nearly 85% of her first-serve points.

“I’ve been working a little bit on all aspects of the serve, mainly the stroke and the timing of the serve, more technique, things like that,” said Brady. “If I’m able to serve well, I’m able to start the point aggressive, start it in my favour.”

The highest-ranked player among the 4 unseeded semi-finalists, Brady had a near-perfect day on serve over the course of the match, and dropped her serve only once.

She particularly sparkled in the second set, going a perfect 14-for-14 on points played behind her first serve, and dropping just 4 points in 5 service games.

Although Gauff held serve first in each set to lead 1-0, the teenager never led from then on, and Brady broke in mirror fashion by taking Gauff’s service games in each set to lead 2-1, and then holding on for victory from there on in.

“Jenny just played a great match, and I can take away a lot from this week in general. I couldn’t have asked for a better week back,” Gauff said in defeat. “I feel like today was the best that I was striking my forehand all week, so that’s something I can take away from this.

“Her serve is great. She hits her targets really well. In particular today, she was hitting both her serves pretty well.

“I was just trying to get them back in the court, but it didn’t work out. She’s definitely Top 5 on my list [of servers on tour], at least of people I’ve played so far.”

This week, Brady has been on cruise control, reigniting the level of play she had at the start of the season.

Pre-shutdown, she scored wins over Ashleigh Barty, Maria Sharapova, Garbiñe Muguruza and Elina Svitolina on her way to the quarters 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 Goerges and after a 5-month shutdown, they have 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 hopes their reunion week ends with her first career WTA trophy on Sunday.

Jil Teichmann has yet to drop a set in Lexington, having dispatched Shelby Rogers to reach the final

© Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann, who won both of her 2 WTA titles at clay court tournaments last year, took an hour and 11 minutes to defeat American Shelby Rogers, 6-3 6-2, to earn her final berth.

“Obviously everyone thinks I’m just a clay court player – I think I’ve proven it’s not only this way,” the 23-year-old said. “I’ve been feeling great on hard courts since the beginning of the year… My goal was just to keep on this level.”

Teichmann is getting extra court time in Kentucky by also playing doubles and she and Marie Bouzkova are in the final on Sunday.

While the physical toll might be a lot for some, Teichmann is so eager for matches that playing doubles was a no-brainer, pointing out that doubles helps her volleys a lot, which she shows off often in her singles.

It marks a disappointing finish for Rogers after one of the biggest wins of her career, over Serena Williams on Thursday in a dramatic third-set tiebreak.

Rogers started out on a high, breaking in the first game to take a 1-0 lead, but Teichmann sent her crashing back down to earth a game later, breaking straight back and attacking the American’s vulnerable serves to reel off the next 4 games in a row to make it 4-1.

Teichmann refused to allow Rogers to get any rhythm, making her play out longer rallies and earning the unforced errors as she took the first set 6-3.

“I have much respect for Shelby, and she won a great match yesterday against Serena,” Teichmann said. “I also practiced with her a few days ago, so I knew she was in good shape.

“So I went into the match really focused and I’m really feeling confident as well.

“So I actually just focused on my side, to do my game. I guess she was a bit tired after yesterday’s match – but who isn’t, after such a long break?”

The American fought her way to break Teichmann and get them back on serve at 1-1 in the second but Teichmann quickly reestablished her lead, taking the next to games to pull ahead 3-1.

Teichmann was tested again as Rogers’ solid returns earned her 3 break points, but she stayed solid to complete the victory in just 72 minutes.

“For me it’s great to be so consistent from the baseline, and then moving forward to the net is where I’ve been feeling the best,” Teichmann assessed. “My serve today was a little bit off, but even in the most difficult moments, like when I had three break points against in the second set, my serve came again. So I feel very good on my serve today.”

In short, Teichmann was simply too strong from start to finish.

“I feel calm,” she said. “I can see the shots. I’m moving well so I guess that helps me a lot.”

The lefty from Switzerland has a very calm demeanour, even in the diciest of moments.

“I try to play with the rhythm between pushing myself, but not too much, because then all the emotions and stress levels go up,”  the World No 63 said. “I honestly just try to focus on the next point and keep up with the positive energy.”

Something is set to give in the final, though, as neither Brady nor Teichmann have dropped a set over the course of their runs to the final.

The pair split two meetings last season, with Brady scoring a three-set victory at the Western & Southern Open, while Teichmann ended the season with a victory at the WTA 125K series event in Limoges, France.

“I actually enjoy playing lefties. They have their serve, and I don’t mind the serve on the ad-side, when it’s coming wide,” Brady assessed. “I’ve played Jil quite a few times.

“I think we know each other’s game styles very well and I think it’ll be a good match.

“Regardless of the outcome – I’m going to show up, give my best and see what happens – but it’s very ideal for me to get a lot of matches before the US Open. I’m really pleased with the week so far.”

Jil Teichmann (L) and Marie Bouzkova have reached the final of the doubles on Sunday

© Dylan Buell/Getty Images



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