American CoCo Vandeweghe has advanced to Sunday’s final at the Oracle Challenger Series Houston, with a hard-fought 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele. There, she will meet Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens, a winner over another American, Irina Falconi. Vandeweghe and Flipkens have played three times before dating back to 2015, with Vandeweghe holding the 2-1 edge. However, Flipkens won the pair’s most recent meeting at the 2018 US Open.
From start to finish, the Vandeweghe vs. Voegele match was on the American’s racquet, with winners or errors from her side deciding the majority of the points. Voegele, however, stayed the course and used her consistency and placement to wrong-foot Vandeweghe.
“She was playing really well,” said the American former World No.9. “Putting me in very uncomfortable positions. It took me a minute to get into the match and get my legs underneath me. But she kept doing it over the three sets and I kept trying to get more consistent each time. I felt I was really inconsistent the first set, missing a lot of rally balls.”
Once her rhythm came back, the American began dictating the rallies and hitting winners from all areas of the court. There was little the talented Swiss could do to counteract the assault. Many of these hot shots came at key moments of the match, as well.
“I challenged her a lot in break points and also in my hold points,” recognized Vandeweghe. “I took care of them without going back and forth too much. That puts a lot of pressure on her.”
Vandeweghe took the second set to force a decisive third, which was a back-and-forth affair until the American wild card broke Voegele in the last game with some spectacular returns and shot-making.
All week, Vandeweghe has had a spring in her step and her famous “swagger” back while on the court – things she attributes to her attitude and mindset.
“I’m actually enjoying tennis, that’s part of what’s going on and why I’m playing well this week. I’m doing the best I can and controlling what I can on the court.”
She now faces another tour veteran in Kirsten Flipkens, who won 6-3, 7-5 over American Irina Falconi, saving a set point in the second.
“The second set got much more tight, I was down a break early,” said Flipkens. “I felt like I needed to step up my game a little bit, I was playing too defensive. I saved a set point and managed to get the break at the end, so I’m satisfied with how I played.”
Flipkens is known for her crafty play and impeccable slicing, as evidenced by reach the Wimbledon final in 2013 on grass, a surface that rewards chipping and charging. This is in direct contrast to Vandeweghe’s game, one that is based on power and heavy-hitting.
“It’s tough, I have to stay the course and manage what I can control, said Vandeweghe about her matchup with Flipkens. “But also take the opportunities to come forward and take advantage of the play. She has a lot of craft, but can pop the ball and has a sneaky serve. She beat me at the 2018 US Open after my first injury happened that July, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some revenge.”
Vandeweghe’s opportunity for revenge comes Sunday at 11am at the George R. Brown Tennis Center at Rice University in what will be a spectacular final for fans.
“She’s a great opponent, a great fighter,” remarked Flipkens. “She has a big serve and big swings. It’s a good final for the crowd. It will be a tough match for both of us, but we’re ready.”