Coco Vandeweghe’s Surprise OZ Open Is No Surprise To Her

Maybe Coco Vandeweghe needs to change her goals for 2017.

The Australian Open upstart already reached all the marks she set out for herself this year.

Reach the quarterfinals in a slam other than Wimbledon. Check.

Reach a semifinal in any slam. And now that’s a check.

After dismantling No. 7 seed Garbine Muguruza, 6-4 6-0, Vandeweghe is now two matches away from being a Grand Slam Champion and is playing like she can beat just about anyone.

Of course, she will have to beat at least one Williams Sister and possibly two.

But she is ready for them and all the naysayers.

“I think I don’t shy away from a challenge necessarily,” she said. “I never have. Growing up, I’ve always just wanted to prove people wrong in a lot of different regards.”

Vandeweghe is from a very famous sports family. Her mother was an Olympic swimmer, while her grandfather played point guard for the Knicks and her uncle also played for the Knicks, among other teams.

Having such a competitive family helped her succeed in ultimately drove her to become the player we saw on the court today.

“It’s a very competitive family, whether it’s just playing cards around the table, or if it does end up coming to sports,” she said.  “But, you know, I like to think I’m smart enough not to mess with anyone in their said sport that they like to play. But not always. I did get schooled in the pool by my mom quite a few times trying to be a smart kind of individual. My brother and I got beat in HORSE Kiki because we thought we could out-shoot him. My grandfather, I always thought I had quicker hands than he did, so little hand-slap games, things like that.”

But having an athletic family, but not necessarily a tennis family didn’t help her that much on the court before the last couple of seasons. In fact, she seemed like a player, who had relatives that played for the Knicks, because she would be very competitive against the top players, but will play down to her opponents.

However, she has been a giant killer this fortnight being one Top 10 player after another.

One reason if for the change is coaching. Not only did she got someone who got through to her, she is also working with a mental coach. Over the years, Vandeweghe went through a number of coaches to no avail before teaming up with Craig Kardon, who was with names like Martina Navatilova, Mary Pierce, and Lindsay Davenport.

“It’s kind of a give-and-take relationship definitely where I take from him right now more than he’s giving me,” Vandeweghe said. “Before the match I was quite honest with him that I was a little bit nervous and I was a little bit scared.

“He’s like, Okay, listen, that’s normal to feel like that. But go out there, you’ll be settled within the warmup. If it’s not the warmup, the very first game you’ll be settled. Don’t even worry about it.

“It’s just the calming voice of someone you trust, you know that trusts and believes in you, was enough for me to feel better about myself just in this one situation. That happens a lot. I would say more on the practice court I give it to him more than anything.”

And now, she is four sets away from the title. But first up is Venus Williams, who will be looking for another Grand Slam title at the age of 36. If she wins that match, she will jump to just outside the Top 10 from being ranked 35th in this tournament.

“But to do it at this stage of a Grand Slam is kind of crazy,” she said. “I mean, I can’t really put it into words. Not only when I was younger, it was unknown if I even wanted to play tennis, because I was playing basketball as well, but it was kind of, like, you see that, you see it happening, but you more see yourself there. You don’t see who the opponent is on the other side when you get there.

“To definitely have two Americans against each other in the semifinal I think is pretty cool.”

It definitely is.

Time for new goals.   

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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