NEW YORK — Jennifer Brady clasped her hands, threw back her head, closed her eyes and soaked in the biggest moment of her tennis career.
“Wow,” she said, describing the moment. “Just wow.”
The 25-year-old American led a contingent of players into their first U.S. Open quarterfinals on Sunday, beating former champion Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-4 with a dominant serve and forehand.
A bracket lacking many tops players because of injuries and coronavirus concerns has given up-and-comers a chance to seize the moment. Nobody has done it better than Brady, who has yet to drop a set and has lost only 19 games in her four matches.
For Kerber, it was an abrupt end to a resurgent week. The 2016 U.S. Open champion couldn’t make headway against the American, whose biggest challenge came leading 3-2 in the second set.
Brady took a medical timeout and returned to the court with her upper left leg wrapped.
“My leg was bothering me and I wasn’t serving well,” said Brady, who is based in Florida and ranked No. 41. “I was glad to close it out.”
Brady had never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal. Her impressive week – as good as anyone’s – has provided a breakout moment.
“She’s hitting the ball really fast,” Kerber said. “She’s playing well. She has confidence. Let’s see how far she can get here, but for sure she can get far.”
Brady will play Yulia Putintseva, who threw her racket to the ground after dropping the second set in her match – an outburst that became a turning point.
The 35th-ranked player recovered for a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory over No. 8 seed Petra Martic and her first berth in a U.S. Open quarterfinal.
“Before the third set I said to myself, `Whatever happens, you just make it difficult for her, you’re not going to make any mistakes, you’re going to move her around the court as much as possible,”‘ Putintseva said.
Martic took a medical timeout to get her left foot treated and wrapped before the final game of the match. She finished with 39 unforced errors – 14 more than Putintseva.
In the men’s bracket, fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev is the first German to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals since Tommy Haas in 2007.
TRY NO. 57
Alize Cornet of France reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time, giving her another chance for that elusive first berth in a Grand Slam quarterfinal. It’s her 57th chance to finally get that far.
The 56th-ranked player has played in the last 54 Grand Slams, the longest active streak and tied for fourth-longest in the Open era. Japan’s Ai Sugiyama played in 62 consecutive Grand Slams.
“I’m pretty proud of this record, let’s say, because it just means that my career has been very consistent since I’m 17,” said Cornet, 30. “It’s not easy never to be injured, never to win a slam, not to drop in the ranking. I’ve been between (No.) 10 and 90 for my whole career, so it’s quite a good consistency I’ll say.”
She’ll face Tsvetana Pironkova in her fourth-round match Monday.
“I’m not a player that gives up,” Cornet said, adding, “I’m proud of this resilience.”
STREAK ENDS AT 13
With top-seeded Novak Djokovic defaulted, a streak will be broken.
The last 13 Grand Slams have been won by either Djokovic (5), Rafael Nadal (5) or Roger Federer (3). Defending champion Nadal chose not to play the U.S. Open out of pandemic concerns, and Federer is recovering from knee surgery.