After her first career Top 10 win over Petra Kvitova in Stuttgart, American Madison Brengle sat down and talked about flying under the radar, setting herself new goals on clay and the emotional turmoil her favorite TV show put her through this time last week.
Last year, Madison Brengle came into Stuttgart ranked No. 153 and lost to World No. 288 Katerina Vankova in the first round of qualifying. This year, the American made the main draw directly — albeit at the last minute, when Eugenie Bouchard pulled out of the indoor clay tournament. Well prepared for the indoor conditions from the last few days, Brengle defeated Italian lucky loser Alberta Brianti in her first round and, earlier today, took on World No. 4 Petra Kvitova.
“I tried to control as much of I could on my service games because when she was making her first serve, it was quite tricky and I had to play a bit of defense,” Brengle said after her shocking 6-3, 7-6(2) win. “So, I tried to control my service games and I felt like I did a good job of that — except for that 5-4 game [where she was broken after holding a 40-0 lead] — which can happen against a World No. 4. I tried to really calm down at the changeover, and I felt like I came out and served really well at 5-6 and I was very happy with how I served in the tiebreaker.”
Brengle had a strong start to the season, reaching the Hobart final and the fourth round of the Australian Open before losing to her countrywoman — and fellow Madison — Keys. Due to her success Down Under, the American climbed into the Top 50 and provided steady, but not spectacular, results as the clay court season began. After losing an ITF final in Osprey to her good friend Alexa Glatch, the 25-year-old reached the third round in Charleston, falling to defending champion, Andrea Petkovic.
“After Australia, people, like, asked me, ‘What do you want to work on; what are your goals?’ A big one for me was having better results on clay,” Brengle admitted. “I played some good matches here and there, but it wasn’t as solid all the way through as I would have liked.
“So, it’s kind of one of my goals to play every match quite well on the clay. I’m very happy to have all these weeks.”
There have been several young Americans making waves over the past few years, but Brengle’s rise came a little left of center. An Australian Open and Wimbledon girls’ singles runner-up in 2007, the American struggled to transition onto the WTA Tour, but even her recent rise up the rankings has still still allowed her to keep a low profile — a position she quite enjoys.
“I quite like [flying under the radar],” she said. “I really do. I mean, I’m quite quiet and keep to myself at the tournaments mostly. No, I do like that.”
Just like another unexpected clay-court success story from 2014 — Jana Cepelova’s run to the final at the Family Circle Cup — Brengle is in Stuttgart without a coach.
“I don’t have a coach with me here. I’m here by myself. It’s okay. It’s not the worst thing. Maybe my parents are going to come for a little. Like, the guy who was my coach in Australia works at an academy in New York. So, him getting off work and matching up, like, with my tournaments it’s quite tricky.”
The question is — how does a player prepare for a match without a coach or without anyone by her side?
The American has her own way of going about it.
“I’m probably going to go eat,” she said, laughing. “The food here is unbelievable…I think I’m probably going to enjoy my day. I’m definitely going to go eat because that food here is incredible.”
At the Australian Open, Brengle said that she was a huge fan of the television show Scandal and enjoys the occasional Olivia Pope-esque glass of red wine. At the end on Thursday’s press conference, conversation turned to the latest episode — which ended on a massive cliffhanger — and an emotional Brengle had a lot of thoughts.
(We’d advise you not to read on, if you don’t want the show spoiled.)
“After the last episode, like, it broke my heart,” she said. “I was so upset. All my friends — we were all messaging. Because I love Jake; I named my car Jake, okay? When that happened, I was really heartbroken. So, I really hope that it’s not what I think it was, because you start to care about these fictional characters!”
Tomorrow, Brengle will play Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals. By virtue of defeating Kvitova today, she has already guaranteed that she’ll break the Top 40 for the first time in her career.
What do you make of Brengle’s rise and chances in Stuttgart? Sound off in the comments!