She is the player who is arguably having the hottest streak at Melbourne Park right now.
The 35th ranked unseeded CoCo Vandeweghe now finds herself set for her maiden semi-final, after bulldozing her way through this year’s Australian Open,. But it was the ease with which Vandeweghe annihilated both of last year’s grand slam champions that has set eyes wide with disbelief.
Angelique Kerber’s wall of defense eventually crumbled as CoCo relentlessly pounded the ball with devastating precision. At times all the world number one could do was watch in wonder as the winners whizzed by. Two sets later it was all over for the defending champion.
Garbine Muguruza also had no answers to the American’s firepower and deft ball-striking. The French Open champion was reduced to a shadow of her former self as Vandeweghe handed her a bagel to seal the straight set victory.
CoCo has the intriguing name, she has the sunny Californian looks, and she even has the unfair advantage of handpicked sporting genes. Her grandfather and uncle both played in the NBA, while her mother was an Olympic swimmer and volleyball player. And now she evidently has the self-belief that could catapult her game to new heights. It’s somewhat satisfying to see it all finally come together, like a forgotten jigsaw puzzle whose final piece has suddenly been found.
Though completely unexpected, Coco’s level of play at this year’s first championships is not entirely inconceivable. The American has always been heavy hitter with a booming serve who is clearly at her best when she goes for her shots. A high-risk and often animated player, she’s one of the most exciting women on tour to watch.
But in the past, the excitement has been short-lived. Vandeweghe has often allowed her emotions and frustrations to get the better of her. Inconsistency has hampered her from winning tournaments and progressing to the business end of the grand slams. So what has changed? A new-found belief in her seemingly supernatural abilities? Consistency? She’ll need plenty of both in the next round against her fellow American, the grande dame Venus Williams.
Perhaps CoCo’s ascent is well-timed. In a sport which relies on characters to sustain added interest, the American’s big personality will certainly be a talking point. To some, her confidence will boarder on cockiness. To others, it will be a welcome departure from the transparent humblebrag. When asked her opinion on her quarter-finals performance, CoCo gushed. “Once I got rolling in the second, it was like a freight train, you couldn’t stop it!” To which the interviewer could only respond, “There’s no one like you Coco.”