After Thursday’s round of tennis at spiffy La Costa Resort, one thing is certain; Coco Vandeweghe thrives in the spotlight. The local favorite rode a wave of crowd enthusiasm to catch and pass third seeded Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva in a spectacular three set 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory that will not be forgotten by the rowdy witnesses.
In the night match, Zvonareva came out firing and her experience seemed to signal doom for the crowd favorite. Coco was nervous and rattled by the pace of Zvonareva’s play. With a 1-8 tour record this season, there appeared little reason for Vera to be concerned as the Russian swept through the first set.
Things began to change when Coco took stock of her play between sets and changed strategies. The victor decided to use he fleet feet. Her new, aggressive style of play caught Vera off guard and suddenly the American was up a break in set two.
Spurred on by a vocal crowd, Coco played at her highest level as she took control of the match and Zvonareva. “I was surprised by her. She decided to be a little more aggressive and go for her shots and she served well,” said Vera.
The win is Coco’s first over a top ten opponent. Now, the overachiever moves into the Friday quarterfinals against former world number one and winner of two Grand Slams, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova appeared to be headed for a cakewalk win against Italian Sara Errani, but Sara escaped from a 3-5 deficit in the second set by forcing a tiebreaker, which she won. Kuznetsova came out firing in the third set and jumped to a 5-1 lead. Remarkably Errani saved two match points and went on a tear leveling the match at 5-5. Svetlana did win the next two games but criticized her play saying that she has difficulty closing out matches. That deficiency has hurt the 21st ranked player this season.
215th ranked Italian Flavia Pennetta had a comeback of her own against her friend, Russian Maria Kirilenko. The French Open Champion was down 2-5 in the second set before getting back to a winning mindset and closing out Maria 6-4, 7-6 (5). Pennetta will play top seed Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals. Pennetta has topped Stosur in both of their earlier matches.
Kirilenko continues to improve but needs a signature win to break through to the next level. The pretty blonde does draw a crowd and like Ana Ivanovic has one of the largest followings on the tour.
Daniela Hantuchova is playing as if she wants to regain her former number five ranking. The Slovakian ended China’s Zheng Jie’s tournament with a convincing 6-2, 6-1 second round win. Daniela saved three match points in her first round upset of France’s Marion Bartoli.
Hantuchova will next face the newest Russian sensation, Alisa Kleybanova. The smooth swinging Daniela will need her running shoes to get past Kleybanova’s polished all curt game.
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