The first match of the 2017 WTA Elite Trophy saw second seed Coco Vandeweghe silence the home crowd in Zhuhai after ousting local favourite and wildcard Peng Shuai 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 56 minutes of play, giving herself a golden opportunity to qualify for the semifinals and end the year in the top 10.
Perfect start for Peng
In front of her home crowd, the local favorite made the perfect start to the opening encounter of the whole tournament as she easily held her serve in the first game of the match. Four consecutive unforced errors from Vandeweghe saw her get broken immediately in the following game, with Peng grabbing the early lead. Some powerful serves then saw the wildcard comfortably consolidate the break for a commanding 3-0 lead, winning the first 12 of 15 points in the match.
Peng holds onto the lead
Vandeweghe finally managed to get onto the scoreboard with a narrow service hold but Peng seemed determined to keep her lead as another clinical service hold paved the way for the Chinese to open up a 4-1 lead. With her precise and consistent groundstrokes, Peng was controlling play throughout the rallies as she powered to a 0-30 lead in the sixth game but Vandeweghe’s powerful serving saved her from the brink.
Peng overcomes a slight hiccup as she closes out the set
An exchange of breaks followed as the American was able to break straight back but she was unable to keep up her high level of play as her inconsistency kicked in once more, throwing away a 30-0 lead only to get broken and gift her opponent the golden opportunity to serve out the set. This time, Peng was able to hold her serve as her consistent two-handed strokes proved to be too good, eventually closing out the set 6-3.
Vandeweghe fights back
The second set saw Vandeweghe put up a much better display of her aggressive style of tennis. Peng was unable to convert her opportunities as she wasted 30-15 leads in the opening two games of the set before the American started to be more consistent on all her groundstrokes and serves.
Although Peng managed to get onto the scoreboard, she was still unable to fend off the tough challenge of Vandeweghe as she was just simply firing on all cylinders, and she could be considered invincible as Peng was helpless when facing the powerful serves.
Vandeweghe overcomes her nerves and takes the second set 6-3
A 5-1 lead ensued with Vandeweghe’s high-quality play, but she tensed up during the crucial moments as an incredible comeback looked to be possible. Peng stepped up her play and started to be more aggressive, saving a set point and lessened the deficit to just two games before earning yet another break point. However, she was unable to capitalize on her chances as Vandeweghe eventually saved two set points to send the match into a decider.
Vandeweghe grabs the early lead
After a tight start to the deciding set, it was unexpectedly Vandeweghe who made the first breakthrough as Peng made two crucial unforced errors at 30-30 to get broken, allowing her opponent to take the lead. The American then came from 15-30 down to consolidate the break for a formidable 3-1 lead with nothing being able to stop her on these fast-paced courts in Zhuhai.
Vandeweghe takes the win
The remainder of the final set went on serve but Peng soon faltered as she lost all the rhythm on her strokes, committing errors after errors. Using the power on her groundstrokes wisely, Vandeweghe moved up to the net whenever it mattered as she eventually clinched the win in just under two hours of play.