“Fake it til you make it”
That’s what Coco Vandeweghe said during her on-court interview after taking down the number one ranked Angelique Kerber. For years Vandeweghe always acted like she belonged, with her big personality and gamesmanship on the court, but now she is finally showing us the game to back up that swagger.
She admits in the same interview, shown above, that she has struggled with confidence at times but decided this year she wasn’t going to let her opponents know when she wasn’t at her best. For a player that wears her emotion on her sleeve like Vandeweghe does, it can often define you as a player, for better or for worse. Vandeweghe has shown throughout her young career that she does have the game to stack up to her personality but it has emerged only sporadically. It seems she has found that balance.
Standing at 6 feet 1 inches she has the imposing stature to go with her big personality and she has been using it to great effect this tournament. Her massive serve excels on the hard courts of Melbourne, and the fact the courts have been playing faster than in years past have been a massive advantage for her. Besides relying on her heavy ground strokes she has improved her return of serve as well as her overall mobility. Her first set break of Garbine Muguruza, her quarterfinal opponent and defending Australian Open champion, perfectly encapsulated Vandeweghes game over the last few weeks. She battled throughout the game by mixing in plenty of off-speed back hand slices, feasted on Muguruza second serve by putting away points at the net with suburb touch, and lamented some loose ground strokes with screams of frustration and bouncing of the racquet. She didn’t let those points get to her head, however, and she was able to break the set, and ultimately the match, wide open.
For Coco she has always had the skill to compete at the highest level and the all around game to challenge for Grand Slam titles. Martina Hingis doesn’t call you asking to be your doubles partner if you don’t. Her next opponent, the legendary Venus Williams, will be able to match her power and have the decided experience advantage over her. Also, in the only match the two have played against each other, last year on clay, Venus came out on top in straights. Just the fact, however, that Vandewghes has gotten the chance to experience what it’s like to play the heavy hitting Venus will be an advantage going into tonight’s semi-final. If she can continue to master this fine balance of emotion and composure then there may not be anyone who can stand in her way.