Anti-Djoker is the hero Aus Open needed
While Novak Djokovic was jotting down his list of demands for Australian Open organisers last month, Jennifer Brady's focus remained on the task at hand.
The Pennsylvania athlete was one of the 72 players forced into a strict 14-day hard lockdown ahead of the grad slam tournament.
Brady was forced into isolation after eight positive COVID-19 cases were detected on the charter flights that ferried the tennis players to Melbourne.
She was not permitted the daily five-hour training blocks that the rest of the field enjoyed.
Rather than whine about the ordeal on social media, Brady made a conscious decision to make the best of a bad situation.
The 25-year-old was provided with a bike, weights and later a treadmill, and got down to work in her small hotel room as other players complained publicly about the conditions.
The American's positive attitude paid off, ultimately becoming the only woman who endured the hard lockdown to qualify for the quarter-finals in the singles tournament.
And after trumping Czech star Karolina Muchova at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday afternoon, Brady has defied the odds to qualify for her maiden final in a major.
Brady also benefited from intense gym time before heading to Australia, which got her in prime condition before the unexpected hard lockdown.
"I think pretty much everyone got through it. But a lot of people were complaining, and I told myself I wasn't going to complain," Brady said earlier this month.
"I mean, there's way worse things going on in the world than me being stuck in a hotel room for 14 days.
"It was a small hotel room, but I was able to do everything that I needed to do to stay as fit as possible."
Before this year's Australian Open, Brady had not won a grand slam match at Melbourne Park in four years.
The 25-year-old was knocked out by first round opponents in 2018 and 2020, and didn't even qualify for the 2019 singles tournament.
For a while, Brady's focus shifted towards doubles tennis, where she found considerably more success in 2018.
But she has been in career-best form since the coronavirus lockdown, climbing to her highest-ever WTA singles ranking of No. 24 after advancing to the US Open semi-finals and winning her maiden title in Kentucky last year.
READ MORE: Djokovic blown away by stunning recovery
For Saturday's final, Brady will come up against Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka, who boasts a perfect record in grand slam deciders.
The 23-year-old Osaka has featured in three major finals, winning all three, including the 2019 Australian Open.
Although Osaka is undeniably the favourite leading into Saturday's final, Brady's impressive form since the sport emerged from the COVID-19 lockdown can't be ignored.
Naomi Osaka - 1.9 million
Jennifer Brady - 32,700
Naomi Osaka - 851,400
Jennifer Brady - 8651
- with AFP
Originally published as Anti-Djoker is the hero Aus Open needed