By Ros Satar, in Birmingham
- Coco Vandeweghe def. Agnieszka Radwanska [1/WC] 7-5 4-6 6-3
- Rain puts schedule behind with Johanna Konta and Caroline Wozniacki still to complete their opening rounds
BIRMINGHAM, UK – S’Hertogenbosch champion Coco Vandeweghe showed no signs of travel fatigue after upending top seed Agnieszka Radwanska at the Aegon Classic.
The day started unpromisingly with heavy rain until the afternoon, but a decent patch of less wet/vaguely dry weather started a passage of play that saw all but two of the first round matches to be completed.
Yet hot on the heels of the Mallorca top seed Garbiñe Muguruza being bundled out of Birmingham’s sunnier cousin, Radwanska struggled to adjust to the severe wet weather in the Midlands.
Vandeweghe arrived with a grass court title already under her belt, and match sharp on this surface, wet weather notwithstanding.
It is not as though one player had a greater advantage – both had break point opportunities midway through the set before Vandeweghe took her chance late in the first set, serving it out for a lead.
It was a mightily relieved looking Radwanska who took a little more control in the second set, breaking early, and keeping her nerve after the American closed the gap once more.
However the rustiness (not least by staying out on the spitting rain) started to show as Vandeweghe picked up the pace again in one of the more entertaining matches this week given the disruptions.
She broke twice to put herself in the position to serve out for the match for the first time, but Radwanska clawed one of the breaks back.
It was left to the American to break again, this time for the match, and perhaps the start of another solid run on the grass.
Radwanska was understandably disappointed in a week that has not really helped anyone starting on the grass this week to get their legs on this surface.
She said, after her match: “She was playing quite good. She just continued playing from last week. For me, was tough. First match is always tricky pretty much without the practice on the grass. I think I needed a couple more days to adjust. Hopefully Eastbourne will be better.
“That was the point as well, to play more on grass, to be ready a bit earlier. I lost a couple times in Eastbourne first round. Last year was a different story. I played Nottingham, then Eastbourne I was feeling much better. Hopefully this year will be the same story. I mean, I didn’t play bad today. Maybe I didn’t feel the grass that well yet.”
For Vandeweghe it was a turning point in a period of some highs and some real lows. Having missed the Olympic team cut, she was brimming with confidence again on a surface that makes her a menace to whoever is on the other side of the net.
She told reporters: “I think grass and hard courts definitely accentuates what I do well. I think it cause a big problem of what I do well. My pace, my power, my placement, my serve. I return pretty decently. Causes more havoc for players on grass and hard court than the other surface of clay. With all those things, I’m going to be pretty difficult opponent.
“I actually tapered down my clay court season for this grass court season. I went home after Rome and just flew in two days before the French. I was actually on the plane with Lindsay Davenport and Justin Gimelstob the commentating crew, so that’s how late I was arriving at the French.
“I mean, when the problem arises if I’m going to play Eastbourne or not, I will cross that bridge when I get to it. But I have another match to play, hopefully another match to win and doubles as well. This is differently going to be a full load week for me. Last week I didn’t play doubles, but this week I am.”
Rain backs up schedule
That we got any play at all on a day that started with torrential downpours so severe, cars were not allowed into the public car-park (a hill in a school-ground) as the cars were slipping down the slope!
With British No. 1 Johanna Konta and former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki still outstanding on the first round card, the tournament now has no choice but to have the home hope potentially playing twice on the schedule on Thursday.
Konta will play her first round match not before 1:30pm BST.
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