In the final match on Day 7 of the Australian Open in the Rod Laver Arena, the USA's Coco Vandeweghe ranked 35 in the world upset world number one, defending Australian Open champion and reigning US Open champion Angelique Kerber in two stunning sets of tennis, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and eight minutes. It was Vandeweghe's first victory over a reigning world number one, and first over Kerber, having trailed 2-0 in their previous encounters.
The Rod Laver Arena crowd already saw world number one Andy Murray in the men's singles draw fall by the wayside, and to cap off on what has been a truly eventful Australian Open, Vandeweghe caused the biggest upset in the women's draw. It was the first time since the 2003 US Open that the top seeds in the men's and women's singles events fell on the same day with Andre Agassi losing to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semifinals of the US Open and Kim Clijsters losing to compatriot Justine Henin in the US Open women's final.
Vandeweghe cruises in the opening set
Kerber won the coin toss and elected to receive to see if she could get an early break of serve in the match. However, Vandeweghe held serve to lead 1-0. The defending champion also held serve in her first service game to level the scoreboard at 1-1. In the third game of the match, the hard-hitting American raced out to a 30-0 lead with an ace, followed by a sublime double-backhanded winner in the corner. Furthermore, Kerber would level the game at 30-30 with a forehand unforced error from her opponent and in a four-shot rally with Vandeweghe at the net, a forehand winner down the line. Moreover, the American stayed calm and served an ace and a forehand winner to lead 2-1.
Both players continued to hold serve comfortably in the next two games with the American nudging the scoreboard in her favor, leading 3-2. However, in the sixth game, Kerber opened up with a double fault but she would win the next point in a five-shot rally ending it with a forehand winner in the corner. Furthermore, Vandeweghe would win the next two points, creating two break point chances in the process. Two unforced errors from the world number 35 allowed Kerber to get the game to deuce, but Vandeweghe would create a third break point with a sweet backhand winner brushing the edge of the baseline. The American didn't hesitate and took the break point at the third time of asking, drawing the error from Kerber to lead 4-2.
The American would consolidate the break to lead 5-2, and the top-seeded German had the task of serving to stay in the opening set. Unforced errors kept on creeping in the German's game who allowed Vandeweghe to win the first point in this game. Kerber would take the next point due to an unforced error from Vandeweghe. However, alarm bells began to ring as two backhand unforced errors from the world number one gave Vandeweghe her first set point chance. Once again, the former top 30 player didn't hesitate and a tame backhand unforced error in the net by Kerber gave Vandeweghe the set in 33 minutes.
Vandeweghe reaches second Slam quarterfinal
In the second set, the momentum shift occurred within a blink of an eye. Unforced errors from both players and a double fault allowed Kerber to break the American's serve for the first time in this match. The two-time Slam champion would consolidate the break with good serving and Vandeweghe's forehand going long to lead 2-0. However, the 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinalist didn't allow that to bother her as she held serve easily but trailed 2-1.
In the fourth game of the match, both players were trading blow from the blow at the back of the court, and Kerber won the first point in this game with Vandeweghe stranded at the net, coming out on top in a nine-shot rally with a forehand winner down the line. Two more nine-shot rallies would occur in the game with both players winning a point each with Kerber leading 30-15. Two more unforced errors from Vandeweghe gave Kerber a 3-1 lead in the second set.
Despite leading in the second set, errors continued to pour from the German's racquet, nevertheless, Vandeweghe closed out the game to 15 to ensure the deficit was only a single break. In the following game, the American broke Kerber to love with a scintillating backhand winner down the line on the stretch in a 8 shot rally and another tame backhand sailing into the net from Kerber, leveled the second set at 3-3.
Vandeweghe's intensity in this match continued and she sent down an ace to lead 4-3. It was important for Kerber to hold serve in the following game, racing out to a 30-0 lead, an untimely double fault, followed by two forehand winners down the line, gave Vandeweghe a break point. Once again, the world number 35 would convert it with a stunning backhand winner down the line to win four games in a row.
The former top 30 player would serve for the match, getting off to a slow start by sending a backhand unforced error out wide. The American would win the next two points with a good serve out wide, followed by a forehand winner going behind Kerber. However, the German wasn't given up her title without a fight and she would level the game at 30-30 with a forehand return winner down the line. Vandeweghe sent down an ace down the tee for her first match point, and at the first time of asking, the upset was complete with a backhand error from Kerber. The American was victorious, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and eight minutes.
The world number 35 sent down six aces and committed double faults, and her serving was key in her victory today. The American got 51 percent of her first serves in, and won 78 percent of the points on it. Moreover, Vandeweghe hit a staggering 30 winners to 20 unforced errors, in contrast to Kerber who managed only seven 7 and committed 15 unforced errors.
A second Slam quarterfinal appearance
Vandeweghe is no stranger to reaching the latter stages of Grand Slam tournaments as she reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 2015 losing to Maria Sharapova in a three-set match. The American will face reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, who also reached her first Australian Open quarterfinal, defeating Romania's Sorana Cirstea in straight sets. Both players hit the ball hard, and they will fancy their chances to reach the semifinals, and maybe even beyond the semifinals with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Venus Williams awaiting in the semifinals.