When you’re taking on the No. 1 player in the world and you are in the tournament as a qualifier, the outcome would seem preordained.
And it was.
A 6-3, 6-1 loss always stings a bit, but that doesn’t mean CoCo Vandeweghe was berating herself Monday after losing to top-ranked Serena Williams on Stadium Court in the fourth round of the Sony Open at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne.
To the contrary, Vandeweghe, 22, said she rather enjoyed her stay in the tournament.
“I’m happy with all the matches I was able to put together,” she said. “Going through qualifying and winning those tough matches was a big step.”
Vandeweghe, ranked No. 104 in the world, said her coach, Maciej Synowka, characterizes her in three ways.
“One is I can always sleep,” she said. “I can take a nap anywhere. I have been sleeping on those couches in the players’ lounge a couple of times. No. 2 is I’m always hungry. I can eat anytime.
“And No. 3 is I’m always stronger than anybody, and I want to prove that I’m stronger than anybody.”
If the sleep description is accurate, she should have been dozing off during the changeovers during her match that ended early Sunday morning against Samantha Stosur.
The night’s final match started a few minutes before midnight and ended at 2:29 a.m. with some 100 fans remaining in the stands. Vandeweghe confirmed that the late, late show victory, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5, over Stosur, ranked No. 20 in the world, was the latest she has ever finished a match.
And despite the lack of spectators, it was an important victory for Vandeweghe, who is the niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe.
“It was great to get that win against Stosur because she beat me at the U.S. Open a few years back , the year she won,” Vandeweghe said. “Getting a little feeling of revenge is always fun.”
That victory left Williams as Vandeweghe’s next match, and though she is both impressed with and friends with Serena, she was not about to wave the white flag before the match started.
She said she had played so many matches already in the tournament (she had never made it past the first round in the Sony before), she described playing Williams as “… it’s another match, and that’s how you have to think about it. Whether it’s Serena or someone else on the other side of the court, you have to play your game accordingly to the person across the net.”
Going into Monday’s match, Vandeweghe and Williams had met twice, Williams winning both times.
Vandeweghe was more than willing to give it a third try. She didn’t stun the world, but given another opportunity to play Williams, she will be more than happy to accept it.
“She’s a great champion,” Vandeweghe said of Williams. “I think she is what encompasses being a professional. She is a great player and great person.”
Vandeweghe did get one bonus out of Monday’s match. Williams and Vandeweghe had a conversation at the net at match’s end, and it was a bit longer than the usual niceties.
“Serena said she wanted to play doubles with me,” Vandeweghe said with a huge smile.
Will Vandeweghe take her up on that?
Actually, probably won’t happen, because there’s a certain reality connected to that question. Serena’s usual doubles partner — like always — is sister Venus.
“I think I have to get through Venus first to be able to play doubles with Serena,” Vandeweghe said with both a smile and mock sigh.