McDonald: How Far Can Coco Vandeweghe Go At The Australian Open?

Team Coco is apparently not for Conan O’Brien anymore.

Because down in Australia, Coco Vandeweghe is making her own noise, reaching the Quarterfinals in a very impressive 6-2 6-3 win over the No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber.

“I just felt like I was really executing my game well, keeping her on the back foot, and just kind of playing within myself,” Vandeweghe said. “So that’s what I felt was going on the court.”

As much as dominate this win was for Vandeweghe, it’s the total body of work she performed this week that makes her Australian Open so impressive. An up and comer, ranked 35th in the world, the 25 year-old has come of age here in Melbourne. Her power game serve is able to put return gamers like Kerber on their heels, while her accuracy has gotten so much better than it was earlier in her career.

But maybe the biggest difference is her confidence. Vandeweghe expects to win every time she goes out on the court. “It’s just another person that’s in front of me, whoever it may be, if it’s No. 1 in the world, No. 130 in the world, it doesn’t matter, it’s still an opponent to get in my way of achieving my goals,” she said.

Maybe it comes from having two former Knicks in her family and her mother being an Olympian or maybe it’s just American confidence.

Either way, it’s working this year in Melbourne.

But how far can she go? Matching her best Grand Slam performance by making the quarterfinals, Vandeweghe plays No. 7 seed Garbine Muguruza on Tuesday.

“It’s an interesting matchup because she holds a different aspect to a playing style of she’s an aggressor, as well. She is going to play that way, and no other way,” Vandeweghe said. “For me it depends on if I can match it, as well as if I can beat her to that punch of getting first strike, first play.”

Then she will get into Williams territory with possible matches with Venus in the Semis and the Serena in the Finals, both of whom share the same aggressive style Vandeweghe has shown this first week.

So even with today’s impressive win, there’s an uphill battle.

But that doesn’t mean she can’t do it. First and foremost, you expect her to be prepared for these matches.  

“If I don’t execute what my coach and I have set up for the said opponent, I kind of take it inwardly. I’m very disappointed in myself that I could have done something better,” Vendeweghe said. “I think anyone who does anything, and they don’t achieve to the highest of their abilities, and they feel like they underachieve that day is going to feel pretty crappy about themselves.

“If someone outplays you, which can totally happen, it’s kind of like a shellshocked feeling, I would say, where it’s like, Okay, well, that was totally unexpected. How can we not allow this? I say ‘we’ because it’s a collective team. How can we prevent this from ever happening again?”

After years of journeyman status on the tour, Vandeweghe has had a lot of learning experience. It’s now time to see if she can let it ride.

She meat a tough opponent rather at Rod Laver Arena today. Now the fun begins.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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