Monday, 16 January 2017

Coco Vandeweghe blasts a win

Final Day One match on Margaret Court Arena sees very nearly seeded American Coco Vandeweghe battling the 15th seed and 2015 US Open runner-up Roberta Vinci.
They last met at Wimbledon last year, where Coco won a third round encounter, but the current form line suggests that Roberta may have the edge.
Two contrasting styles with a power game from Vandeweghe versus a more structured, cunning style from Vinci, whose doubles experience will see her try to win the net position as much as possible and reduce the effect of the Americans strengths.
Vinci played both Brisbane and Sydney leading into the Aus Open this year, and only exited Brisbane via the racquet of eventual winner Karolina Pliskova, so is in reasonable touch.

Already after just two serves, the game plans of the two women were clear.  Punishing ground strokes from Vandeweghe, mainly from on or around the baseline, sometimes venturing in behind the more penetrating of these.
Vinci relying on a high percentage of first serves, effective placement and slice to break up the points.
Unfortunately for the Italian, Coco latched onto Vinci's serve and short balls in her second service game and broke rather easily to lead 2-1.

Vinci looked to be reading the Vandeweghe serve better in the fourth game but at deuce the big serve was produced twice and the break consolidated.
Another poor service game left Vandeweghe little to do but observe the disaster, and an error ridden Vinci was quickly letting the set slip away.

Vinci needed to hold serve at 1-5 just to give herself something on which to hold going into the second set, because this one was gone without a doubt.  Coco wasn't having any of that though and after 24 minutes the American bashed yet another winner past the hapless Roberta to break for a third time and secure the opener 6-1.
An awesome display of sustained power from a supremely confident player.

The story continued in set two - same characters, similar plot.  Thankfully Vinci served well to break the streak of seven straight games that Vandeweghe had put together, but no solution to how to handle her serve was available yet and another easy hold stretched the lead to 2-1.

For Coco much depends on her serve, and in the fifth game it deserted her, allowing Roberta to break and take the lead 3-2.  A consistent rhythm had been discovered by the fifteenth seed and while Coco was still hitting some exciting winners, they were being interspersed more regularly with garbage.

Vinci did well to save a break point and hold for 4-2. One off forehand down the line winner was especially attractive.
While struggling to hold serve and avoid falling further behind, Vandeweghe saved a break point herself, before at one of the deuces, she fell sick, it appears from the heat, requiring on court treatment.

The treatment worked because she won the next two points, held serve, then played some great shots to break the Vinci serve and it was 4-4.
The next three games went with serve and Vinci needed to hold serve again to take the set into a tie break.  She did.

I can't help but feel that the Italian was hard done by, considering that Vandeweghe was given a medical timeout during a game when she was under pressure and could have lost serve.  Instead she was replenished while Vinci had to sit and wait.
If Vandeweghe was unable to finish the game on her merits, then that should have been the match.  Alternatively she could have played the last two points, even if it meant dropping serve, and then received the medical timeout.
The advantages were given to Coco unfairly.  Not her fault though - she was able to obtain the benefit within the rules, and more importantly her health was addressed promptly.

For the record, Coco Vandeweghe played the tiebreak better, winning it 7 points to 3 and the match 6-1 7-6.
She is exciting to watch, but also can be frustrating - never a dull moment.

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