Coco Vandeweghe, the US Fed Cup heroine, will be focused this season upon improving her consistent but no cigar Slam record.
Vandeweghe loosens up in Hopman Cup
The Hopman Cup was a good starting point last year. Vandeweghe made the final, using the momentum to make the Australian Open semifinals. Venus Williams was too good for the proud American at that stage, but signs were there that Coco doesn’t have too far to step-up to capture a Slam.
Vandeweghe isn’t changing a formula that works. This year she again used the Hopman Cup to ready herself for Melbourne Park. In her first match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Vandeweghe’s performance was satisfying, if a little ring-rusty in her 6-3, 6-3 victory. There are still a few elements of her all-round game to fine-tune. With only 41% of second serve points won, improvement is needed if she’s to grab that elusive Slam. The potent American has the armory to pounce off even a tame 2nd serve. The second serve point won category should be stronger for a player of this calibre.
Vandeweghe Can Build Upon Last Season’s Slam Consistency
Ignoring a French Open first round mishap, Coco Vandeweghe had strong Slam season, achieving personal best semifinal berths at both the US Open and the Australian Open. A quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, losing out to the surprising Magdalena Rybarikova underlines the Slam door-knocking of this powerful athlete. Having won her two previous titles on grass (Den Bosch), Wimbledon will also be a natural season focus point.
It was in Melbourne that Vandeweghe will view as the biggest Slam chance spurned last season. A close defeat in three sets to a resurgent Venus Williams in the semis was heart-breaking. The match featured everything great and frustrating about the Fed Cup heroine. A dominant 2nd set and gritty match point saving indicated at times that it would be Vandeweghe’s shining moment. Impetuosity on key points saw a golden opportunity spurned.
Pat Cash the Hands on Coach
Since June of last year, there has been more freedom in Vandeweghe’s game and demeanour. This is especially since the parting of ways with coach Craig Kardon, replaced by Pat Cash. Amongst her new coach’s first statements on the matter was:
“I’m excited, as I believe she has the potential to win a Slam.”
By and large, since that day she has played with that belief. Her Fed Cup heroics in particular showed an ability to play to the best of her ability when under real scrutiny and pressure. There is chemistry between them and this came out on the court at the Hopman Cup. Pat Cash filled in for the injured Jack Sock, partnering his mentee for mixed doubles – they were beaten in three entertaining (mini) sets by Sugita and Inglis. The result was ultimately overshadowed by the mere fact that Cash rolled his sleeves up. He probably learned more about Coco and her game than by multiple sitting on the sidelines watching.
Overcoming the Curse of Keys
Three high profile defeats to compatriot Madison Keys last season leaves Vandeweghe with a big score to settle. This included a US Open 2017 semifinal drubbing, similar in most aspects to the first defeat in the WTA Stanford final. Had it not been for Madison Keys, Vandeweghe may already have had a Slam in the bag and another WTA title.
It would be the icing on the cake if this demoness was conquered, en route to an Australian Open 2018 victory
Dangerous Hungarian Babos First up for Vandeweghe
Timea Babos is the first obstacle in the Australian Open 2018 for the American.
A Vandeweghe victory at Wimbledon in 2016, is the only history between this pair. Babos gave Sharapova heck of a match in the US Open before losing to her in the round of 64.
The American shot taker should overcome this obstacle. The question is – can she go all the way?
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