When CoCo Vandeweghe won the U.S. Open junior girls title as a wildcard entrant in 2008, she thought victory would come to her easily and often. It did not, and she drifted in search of a way to unlock the potential she always believed she had.
Her faith in herself was justified on Wednesday, when she defeated World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-6(4), 6-3 to advance to the U.S. Open semifinals. Vandeweghe, a New York native who moved to California with her mother as a child, is the third American woman to earn a semifinal berth here. She was preceded by Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens, and she might be joined by Madison Keys, who will face Kaia Kanepi in a quarterfinal match later Wednesday.
“Let’s make it four for four,” Vandweghe, seeded No. 20 here, said in an on-court interview after her match at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The last time all four U.S. Open women’s semifinalists were American was 1981, when Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Barbara Potter reached that stage. Austin went on to win. The last all-American U.S. Open final was in 2002, when Serena Williams defeated her sister Venus for the title.
Vandeweghe broke Pliskova’s serve to take a 3-1 lead in the second set, but Pliskova broke back to make it 3-2. However, Vandeweghe broke again in the sixth game with a forehand passing shot. She saved a break point in the final game and won on her second match point, when Pliskova hit a forehand into the net.
Vandeweghe, 26, was eliminated in the first round at Flushing Meadows last year and has never before gotten this far here. But she played confidently on Wednesday against Pliskova, who will lose her No. 1 ranking to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza when the new rankings are issued next week.
The success Vandeweghe thought would instantly be hers has taken longer than she imagined, but that didn’t matter to her on Wednesday. “It’s a process,” she said, “but I couldn’t wish for anything better.”