Was there anyone who used tennis’ five-month hiatus more effectively than Jennifer Brady? Probably not.
Immediately upon the tour’s resumption, the 25-year-old broke out in a big way. Brady stormed to her first career title in Lexington without dropping a set, then followed it up with a US Open semifinal run—where she gave eventual champion Naomi Osaka all she could handle. Brady has long shown flashes of her extreme power and shotmaking ability, but her increased dedication to fitness allows her to hit hard for much longer periods of time than in years past. If anyone is hitting their forehand bigger than Brady is right now, we certainly haven’t seen it.
The American will kick off her end-of-season campaign against a sputtering Dayana Yastremska, who after a two-title 2019 season, has struggled to find her peak form all year. The 20-year-old owns a 15-10 record on the season, and hasn’t won three consecutive matches since her run to the Adelaide final in January.
This will be the first meeting between the two, and as always, there will be a feeling out period in the beginning as both players try and formulate the best plan of attack. Yastremska will need to avoid any weak replies to Brady’s forehand, while the American will look to control most of the points with her devastating serve and forehand combo.
The Ukrainian is as good as anyone when hitting flat and through the court, so look for Brady to use her exceptional racquet-head speed to rip balls off the sides of the court—something she does better than almost anyone.
Not only can Brady hit sharp cross-court angles, she can also crack sharp inside-out winners as well. Anytime she gets a forehand from the middle of the court, it's a death sentence for her opponents.
According to the oddsmakers, Brady is listed as a slight -160 favorite, but according to UTR, the American—currently rated the ninth best player in the world—has a much more sizable advantage. Yastremska is always a dangerous opponent, especially indoors with perfect conditions, but don’t expect Brady’s stellar 2020 season to end on a low note.
The Pick: Jennifer Brady