American Coco Vandeweghe says she is enjoying the second act of her tennis career after missing several months due to an ankle injury. The 28-year-old American clinched the main draw wild card at the Australian Open by winning the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge.
The American reached the final of the ITF event in Houston as well as the ITF event in Templeton, and two other quarter-finals. Vandeweghe says, "I feel a lot better. I've pushed myself in different ways; OK, I can pay back-to-back three-set matches.
I can play a match after the match on the same day. I can make it five matches deep, back-to-back weeks. Show up to training and not be limping. Things like that, from a progression standpoint. I'm having so much fun playing again, and that has been missing very much so from my game post-2017.
Having that taken away from me in 2018, 2019, it was definitely a shell-shock moment: maybe this is never going to happen for me again. So that's why I'm enjoying it so much in this 'newcomer' of my career. I'm having a whole new personality and outlook to tennis, to life, to relationships on and off the court.
It's been very interesting. I am basically at the bottom of the barrel right now, scraping my way back up to the top to have all that I once was. And that kind of mindset is definitely an ego check”. Vandeweghe will be playing at Melbourne Park for the 10th time in January - it was here that she achieved her best performance by reaching the semi-finals in 2017, where she went down to Venus Williams.
She says she is ready for the tournament after having trained hard during the off-season. “I'm doing a full off-season – I'm training as a normally would, I am competing and playing points. I've been training to be ready to compete again in Grand Slams.
That's what I want to do. But I don't know until I try. The last Grand Slam I tried to play was US Open and I was very overwhelmed ... I feel like I'm capable of competing, but a Grand Slam load of a full two weeks is an unknown for me.
I've always loved playing the Australian Open – I've always thought it was great fun, I've enjoyed it, I've had my best success there. To play in that Australian Open (in 2017), it felt like a milestone, and a stepping stone in my career – in that, I've achieved this, I can do it again”.