CoCo Vandeweghe always has believed she could win a Grand Slam singles title, but injuries often derailed her. Able to train without limitation this year and pushed by new coach Pat Cash, the 25-year-old Rancho Santa Fe resident is getting closer to her goal.
Vandeweghe's 6-4, 7-6 (2) victory on Monday over left-hander Lucie Safarova at Arthur Ashe Stadium launched her into the U.S. Open quarterfinals, her best result here in nine tries. Earlier this year she reached the semifinals of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.
"I went into the offseason (for the) first time without an injury and I was able to have a full offseason there," Vandeweghe said. "I was really confident in my fitness. Tennis just kind of followed suit."
Her quarterfinal opponent will be world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, a formidable obstacle to Vandeweghe's Grand Slam dreams. But regularly reaching the late stages of major tournaments is a solid beginning. "When you start playing tennis as a kid," she said, "you dream of trophies at the end of the week."
Brady says bye
Jennifer Brady's tournament ended Monday with a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Pliskova, but the former UCLA Bruin found positives in reaching the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the second time this year.
Brady, who also went to the fourth round in the Australian Open, held serve only once against the sharp, hard-hitting Pliskova. Brady's usually strong serve betrayed her — she put only 16 of 41 first serves in play — and she hit only six winners, to 23 for Pliskova. Brady is ranked 91st in the world but that will improve when new rankings are issued next week.
"I have had some good wins," said Brady, who upset No. 23 Barbora Strycova in the second round. "It was good for me to get a feel for what it's like playing on a big stage, playing on Ashe. Next time I play on it, I'll know what to expect."
Keys joins the party
No. 15 seed Madison Keys of Florida, continuing a strong return from wrist surgery, erased a third-set deficit to defeat No. 4 Elina Svitolina 7-6 (2), 1-6, 6-4 in her second straight late-night match at Ashe. She joined fellow Americans Vandeweghe, Venus Williams, and Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals, the first time since 2002 four American women have reached this stage.
"It's just really exciting. I'm really happy that none of us are playing each other in the quarterfinals," Keys said. "If there's some all-American matchups in the rest of the tournament, I think that says really good things about women's tennis." She added, "It means the world to me to make the quarterfinals. It was a really rough start to my year. This is just amazing. I'm really proud of myself for digging deep and figuring that out tonight."
She will face qualifier Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, who continued her surprise journey with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Russian Daria Kasatkina.
Querrey representing U.S. men
Sam Querrey was nervous about playing a late-night match at Ashe on Sunday but his jitters didn't last. "I felt like even when I was warming up, the ball was coming off clean. I felt like I was going to play well before the first point started," he said.
He was right. No. 17 Querrey routed No. 23 Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 to become the first American man to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals since John Isner and Andy Roddick in 2011. Querrey, who reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year and semifinals this year, had 18 aces and hit 55 winners while making eight unforced errors.
His quarterfinal opponent on Tuesday will be No. 28 Kevin Anderson of South Africa. "He doesn't give you much rhythm. He can go games where he's serving huge; you don't get a ball in play," Querrey said. "But I feel like when my game's on, I have a dangerous game as well."