Australian Open 2021 semifinals preview – American Jennifer Brady …

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Australian Open 2021 semifinals preview – American Jennifer Brady …

Will Jennifer Brady, playing in her second Slam semifinal, be able to get over the hump? Here are key points and storylines heading into their semifinal clash …

Australian Open 2021 semifinals preview – American Jennifer Brady vying for first Slam final bid

11hD’Arcy Maine18h22h19h9:01 AM ETD’Arcy MaineESPN.com

While it may not be the semifinal anyone expected heading into the Australian Open, Thursday’s match between No. 22 seed and No. 25 seed will be a battle as both players look to earn a spot in a major final for the first time.

Brady defeated friend and fellow American , 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, in her quarterfinal match, the first match of the tournament in which she had lost a set. Muchova, meanwhile, has ousted No. 6 seed , No. 18 and No. 1 in stunning fashion en route to the final four.

Muchova edged Brady in their only previous meeting on tour, a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, second-round victory in Prague in 2019. Now, they will meet again in what will be the biggest match of their young careers.

Will Muchova emerge victorious again when the stakes are at their highest? Will Brady, playing in her second Slam semifinal, be able to get over the hump? Here are key points and storylines heading into their semifinal match (Wednesday, after the Serena Williams-Naomi Osaka semifinal, beginning at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPN App).

The experience factor2 Related

“It definitely helps, just helps overall confidence,” she said Wednesday. “Really just knowing that I belong at this level, I can compete in the second week of Grand Slams consistently, and hope to continue to do that consistently.

“Both of us played a really good match in that [US Open] semifinal — we won match of the year on the women’s side. I think that definitely solidifies the fact that we both played an impressive, high-quality tennis match from start to finish. I’m looking to hopefully replicate that in the next round tomorrow for my semifinal match.”

Prior to Melbourne, Muchova’s best Slam result was a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon in 2019. But with two wins against top 10 opponents in Melbourne (she had just one such victory entering the tournament), she might be buoyed by that confidence.

“I’m just trying to get more into games, to feel the ball, to not make such easy mistakes from the start,” Muchova said Wednesday. “I’m happy that [as the matches go on], I’m bringing my level more and more up.”

The crowdplay0:21Barty out at Australian Open after being upset by Muchova

Karolina Muchova overcomes an early deficit to eliminate top seed Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open.

A limited number of fans will be able to return to the event starting Thursday, after .

Having played more on outer courts at Slams and in several fan-less events during the 2020 season, Brady and Muchova are not used to playing in front of bigger crowds.

Will the reintroduction of the crowd be a difficult distraction in what is already such a monumental match? Even 23-time Slam champion has recently said playing in front of a crowd can add to nerves and anxiety to those big moments, so it’s hard to think it would have no effect on Brady or Muchova.

It will also be interesting to watch how the crowd reacts to Muchova, who ousted hometown favorite Barty in the quarters and used a questionable medical timeout that dramatically altered the course of the match.

Playing styleafter a passenger on her charter flight to Melbourne tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival. She was forced to prepare for the year’s first Slam exclusively in her hotel room. Many other players have expressed how challenging the situation was, but Brady has stayed the course and trusted the work she put in during the preseason — even after saying Thursday that she initially “didn’t really have high expectations” after the unexpected break.

Muchova entered the tournament after the normal two-week quarantine — each day, she and other players were granted five hours outside of their rooms to train on the grounds. She has proven to be the comeback queen, winning sets after being down 5-0 (against Pliskova) and 4-0 (against Mertens). She was powerless against Barty in the first set of Wednesday’s quarterfinals, losing 6-1. But she completely dominated after her medical timeout in the second set, winning eight of nine games during one particularly blistering stretch.

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