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Vandeweghe shocks world No. 1 Kerber, advances to Aussie Open quarters

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22: Coco Vandeweghe of the United States celebrates a point in her fourth round match against Angelique Kerber of Germany on day seven of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
January 22, 2017 09:49 AM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

In a tournament of upsets and on the day the top seeds went crashing out, CoCo Vandeweghe has kept her dream run at the Australian Open alive with yet another unexpected American victory.

The unseeded Vandeweghe toppled world No. 1 and defending champion Angelique Kerber, 6-2, 6-3, in just 68 minutes inside Rod Laver Arena to advance to the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the first time.

Vandeweghe was one of two U.S. players to move through to the final eight of Day 7 of the tournament, joining seven-time major champion Venus Williams, who beat Mona Barthel, 6-3, 7-5, earlier in the afternoon.

For the 25-year-old Vandeweghe, the result is the biggest of her career and it marks just her second time in the quarterfinals of a Slam, following a run to the same stage at Wimbledon 2015 on her favorite surface.

Watch: An Interview with CoCo Vandeweghe

Hard-court wins have typically been hard to come by for the world No. 35, who had only previously been past the second round at the Australian Open or US Open once in 13 attempts. But all those numbers seemed irrelevant from the beginning as Vandeweghe (pictured above) took control from the first ball and never held back, with aggressive ground strokes neutralizing the angles and craft that has helped Kerber to the top of the tennis pyramid.

Vandeweghe faced just one break point on her own racquet and converted four of six on the German’s serve, which has never been her best weapon and which has looked suspect at Melbourne Park all week. By getting ahead in the points early, Vandeweghe was able to record 30 winners compared to Kerber’s seven.

Vandeweghe broke in consecutive games to claim the final four games of the first set, and she responded to losing her serve at the start of the second set by reeling off six of the last seven games, breaking the reigning US champion at 3-2 and again at 4-3.

“Any opponent, I go out there expecting to win,” Vandeweghe said. “It's just another person that's in front of me, whoever it may be, if it's No. 1 in the world, No. 130 in the world, it doesn't matter, it's still an opponent to get in my way of achieving my goals.”

The victory gives Vandeweghe, who has two career titles to her name – in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2016 and 2014 – her ninth career Top 10 victory and her first win over a world No.  1. 

The New York native and current California resident will now face seventh-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza for a spot in the final four, with the winner of that match facing either Williams or No. 24 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Williams has now been in the quarterfinals in Melbourne nine times in her career, and with a maximum of three of the world’s Top 8-ranked players – and possibly as few as one depending on Sunday evening’s results – in the final eight, the draw is very much open for an even deeper run.

Day 8 Down Under sees No. 2 seed Serena Williams continue her quest for a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam women’s singles title against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, and breakout star and world No. 116 Jennifer Brady in her first ever fourth-round slam contest against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.