The quarantine queen who proved the whingers wrong
Oats every morning, fish every day, no Netflix and lots of FaceTime.
That's the magic formula which fuelled Jennifer Brady from hard quarantine lockdown to Australian Open women's finalist.
The American has continued to defy the odds given she was one of the unlucky 72 who spent 14 days confined to a hotel room in the lead-up to the tournament.
While most whinged and quickly fell by the wayside in the early rounds of the Open, Brady adopted a no complaints, no excuses motto.
"The first day I got there I had a grocery delivery, so I had oats delivered," Brady explained after her semi-final victory over Czech Karolina Muchova.
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"Every morning I would have oats, oatmeal, and then I would actually order Uber Eats for lunch and dinner every single day so I didn't eat one of the meals that were provided.
"I ordered Hunky Dory the first seven days, every single day, sometimes twice a day. I'm a creature of habit, so I eat pretty much the same thing every single day."
While she maintained her fitness with an exercise bike the other telling move was not getting drawn into a Netflix fog.
"I didn't watch one Netflix series because I knew if I started something then I wouldn't want to do anything else except lay in bed and watch Netflix," Brady said.
"I actually spent a lot of time on FaceTime with other players that were in the quarantine like Sloane Stephens. We had a group FaceTime so that made the time go really quick.
"I think it was more about just trying to stay positive and know that there are worse things out there than being in a room."
It's fitting that Brady's first grand slam final appearance is against Naomi Osaka given the pair have crossed paths at big moments of their respective careers.
Brady, who hails from Pennsylvania, remembers the first time she saw a young Osaka on the junior circuit in the States.
"We grew up playing junior local tournaments in Florida. Both her and her sister, and I played in the juniors, the Super Series events," she said.
"I remember playing her in this tournament, it may have been like a lower-level challenger event. I think she was just coming up maybe inside the top 200, and I remember playing her. I was, like, 'Wow, she hits the ball huge. She's gonna be good'.
"I mean, I was, like, 'OK, she's got something special'."
Osaka described last year's US Open semi-final against Brady as one of the best matches of her career.
The Japanese superstar prevailed in three tight sets - 7-6 (1) 3-6 6-3 - and then went on to win her third major title.
For Brady, 25, it was a career highlight but she won't be thinking back too much to that epic at Flushing Meadow.
"I think we both played a really good semi-final match at the US Open.," she said. "Unfortunately there were no fans, but the next time we play there will be fans.
"So I think that's going to be something that's going to be extremely exciting.
"I think I can take away the positives from that match and learn maybe what I did wrong that, you know, I wasn't able to come away with the result.
"But also I don't want to compare matches or compare performances and try to replicate that, because every match is different."
Brady, who is Ash Barty's doubles partner, has had a long association with tennis great Chris Evert, an 18-time grand slam winner.
"Chrissie messages me and she is somebody who has seen me since I was 10, 11 years old," she said.
"It's awesome to have someone like her in your corner, supporting you and cheering for you.
"And I definitely respect her and I appreciate everything that she's done for me."
Originally published as The quarantine queen who proved the whingers wrong