Maria Sharapova Ends Coco Vandeweghe's Wimbledon Run
LONDON -- Sometimes it's better not to know what you don't know.
Coco Vandeweghe, a 23-year-old Californian via New York, raced blithely into the quarterfinals at the All England Club -- her first final-eight appearance in a major. Vandeweghe is ranked No. 47 among WTA players (the lowest of the quarterfinalists) and had won one match here at Wimbledon before this fortnight began.
On the other side of the net Tuesday was five-time Grand Slam singles champion Maria Sharapova, who was playing in her 23rd major quarterfinal. Sharapova's reputation and her shrieks preceded her, but Vandeweghe was not intimidated in her first audience with the 2004 Wimbledon winner.
Vandeweghe swung hard on her second serves and missed a few. She blasted her overheads, sometimes into the net. For much of the match, Vandeweghe was outhitting the cool baseline brawler in terms of pace and depth. When she registered a critical break in the third set, she waved her arms to the Centre Court crowd, looking for some noise.
In the end, the No. 4-seeded Sharapova was a 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-2 winner, but Vandeweghe made a number of new friends. And now, to our five match takeaways:
Breaking it down: For 2 hours, 46 minutes, Vandeweghe gave Sharapova a serious, serious go. She hit 32 winners, 12 more than Sharapova. The critical difference came in the crucible of break points; Sharapova converted six of 11, while Vandeweghe was a too-generous 3-for-14.
Giving no quarter: Historically, Sharapova is at her best at this stage of the majors. She is 20-3 in Grand Slam singles quarterfinals, a remarkable winning percentage of .870. She's 15-0 outside the French Open.
Sowing the seeds: This was Vandeweghe's best major tournament ever, after going to the third round of this year's Australian Open. She took Sharapova to the edge and beat No. 11 seed Karolina Pliskova, No. 22 Samantha Stosur and No. 6 Lucie Safarova, a French Open finalist. This will pull up her ranking to No. 32, which, if she manages to maintain it, would get her the last seeded spot in the US Open.
Back to the future: Sharapova broke through as a 17-year-old champion here 11 years ago. Since then, she's gone 0-for-10. This is the 28-year-old Russian's first quarterfinal appearance in four years and second in nine years, after two fourth-round losses and a second-round exit. She's 10-9 in semis and will be tested there by the winner of the later Serena Williams-Victoria Azarenka match. Her head-to-heads: 2-17 vs. Serena ... 8-7 vs. Azarenka.
The state of the union ... is great: This day has showcased the healthy state of American women's tennis. Three of the four quarterfinals featured women from the United States: No. 1-seeded Serena Williams, No. 21 Madison Keys and the unseeded Vandeweghe. Those three are the most at Wimbledon since 2004, when Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport were in the last eight.