After 10 months on the sidelines and over 13 months without a singles match win, American Coco Vandeweghe defeated Czech Marie Bouzkova on the first day of main-draw action at the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose.
The 27-year-old Vandweghe started this year without even being able to walk and now she’s already winning again. The two-time Grand Slam semifinalist, troubled with recurring ankle and foot injury, hadn’t played a singles match since the Beijing Open in late September 2018 and a doubles match since the WTA Finals in Singapore in October that same year.
A sentimental return to action during the 2019 US Open Series saw wildcard Vandeweghe dominate 21-year-old Bouzkova with serve and aggression, firing four aces, the last one on match point, and saving six out of seven break points, while breaking her opponent four times out of seven opportunities. When it comes to the winners count, Vandeweghe’s 21 were too much for Bouzkova’s eight.
In the post-match interview, Vandeweghe said:
It wasn’t easy. To think, five months ago, I wasn’t even walking, to be here, playing, in my first match of the year, I’m just full of emotion. I love the hard-court season. I love the weather that comes along with it. I was bummed to miss the first year here last year, but I’m happy to come out and I’m just happy to compete again.
Vandeweghe has played six WTA singles finals in her career and two of those happened at this very tournament, but when it was called the Bank of the West Classic and took place in Stanford. The last match before the injury break Vandeweghe played ranked 49th, while now she’s as low as No.636.
In the second round, Vandeweghe will play second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, whom she faced and defeated once, in the 2017 Fed Cup final. Despite Vandweghe’s 1-0 head-to-head record against Sabalenka, the Belarusian is favorite in the upcoming encounter, not only because of the American’s still fresh return, but also because Sabalenka is one of the fiercest opponents on the WTA tour now, while that wasn’t the case in 2017.