CoCo Vandeweghe might be unseeded but she has become this year’s Australian Open giant-killer.
On Tuesday, the 25-year-old trounced Garbine Muguruza in straight sets to proceed to her first grand slam semi-final, where she will face one of her childhood heroes, Venus Williams.
Vandweghe backed up her easy win over world No.1 Angelique Kerber with a dominant 6-4 6-0 quarter-final win against the Spaniard.
Her run at Melbourne Park has also included triumphs over 15th seed Roberta Vinci and former world No.5 Eugenie Bouchard, and following her latest win, Vandeweghe discussed her efforts with trademark honesty.
Asked by interviewer Sam Smith whether it was a career-best performance, Vandeweghe responded: “Sadly no, I really wasn’t feeling all that great out there, funnily enough.”
Then came the no-filter sense of humour she’s becoming known for, that no doubt caused members of her entourage to cringe.
“I was really nervous … I told my coach before, I was like ‘man, better get some toilet paper out there’,” she added.
Finally, the rising star – who is earning a reputation for being cocky – compared her performance to “a freight train – you couldn’t stop it”.
In a separate interview following her win over Bouchard, she was asked how it ranked in her list of career achievements: “Actually, not that high.” Ouch!
Meanwhile, she revealed she “felt like crap” during her straight-sets win over Kerber.
Not to mention her first-round win over Vinci, during which she took a 10-minute timeout because she thought she was going to “barf on court”.
Her motto? “Fake it till you make it” – something she picked up from her grandmother, a former Miss America.
Vandeweghe’s ruthless performance at her sixth Australian Open is a far cry from previous attempts, having only advanced past the first round on two occasions.
Not only is the California-based player performing extremely well against the world’s best, she’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
In terms of X-factor, the feisty blonde has it in spades.
On court, she plays with the power and ferocity of a young Serena Williams.
Her match against Kerber saw her hit serves often with more speed and accuracy than the top male players who preceded her on the same court: Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori.
Her social media reach (21,000 Instagram followers and growing) and fresh-faced energy rival that of the very bankable Bouchard.
A photo posted by CoCo Vandeweghe (@cocovandey) on
And her fiery demeanour – the occasional racquet smash and shouted profanity – has just the right amount of Nick Kyrgios to it.
That’s not to say Vandeweghe has come from nowhere.
She’s ranked 35th in the world and her career prize money totals $US3 million.
But it certainly does feel as though she’s hit her stride at the Open given her previous best at a grand slam was in 2015, when she reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
— #7TENNIS 🎾 (@7tennis) January 22, 2017
Born Colleen Vandeweghe in New York City, she possesses an enviable sporting pedigree.
Her grandfather is former New York Knicks basketball player Ernie Vandeweghe, her uncle is basketballer Kiki Vandeweghe and her mother is Olympic swimmer Tauna Vandeweghe.
At 185cm, Vandeweghe can also impress on the basketball court.
Her ESPN profile recounts how her father discovered she was ambidextrous at the age of three.
She has spoken honestly about her strained relationship, revealing in the past she has “zero relationship with my father”.
“Screw me over once, and you’re not going to screw me over twice,” she said.
“I had enough, and at 16 I decided I didn’t want to deal with it anymore.”
As for Vandeweghe’s love life – she’s single, but has no issue with joking about her crush on actor Scott Eastwood, son of Clint Eastwood, even though he’s shorter than her.
— CoCo Vandeweghe (@CoCoVandey) October 28, 2016
Today, Vandeweghe gets guidance from coach Craig Kardon, whose past clients have included other American greats like Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.
“I think it was huge for her to realise that she belongs where she belongs,” Kardon told ESPN after her Wimbledon performance in 2015.
“But that’s only the beginning of what she’s capable of.”