Vandeweghe opens grass-court season with a title

June 12, 2016 04:12 PM

By Jackie Finn,

CoCo Vandeweghe got her grass-court campaign off to a resounding start, as the American defeated Frenchwomen Kristina Mladenovic, 7-5, 7-5, Sunday to win the Ricoh Open in the Netherlands for the second time in three years.

Vandeweghe, who had a disappointing clay-court season, was much more at ease on the faster surface with her powerful serve and heavy ground strokes. She did not drop a set the entire week in adding this crown to the one she won here in 2014, her inagugural WTA crown.

Vandeweghe’s victory puts her in the company of Justine Henin and Tamarine Tanasugarn as the only players to win this title twice.

It was an encouraging week as the current world No. 43 – she figures to crack the Top 40 when the new rankings come out Monday – tunes up for Wimbledon, which begins on June 27.

In her first final of the season, Vandeweghe, 24, had to contend not only with the third-seeded Mladenovic but also with several rain delays, including one after the first five games of the match and another after the first set.

"It was actually really difficult – we had three rain delay stops – so it was really difficult to get yourself back into the match and make sure you're fresh and light and ready to go," Vandeweghe said. "Especially the last rain delay in the first set. I was really trying to get myself moving."

The sixth-seeded Vandeweghe slammed seven aces and dropped her serve just once, saving two other break points.

In the semifinals, Vandeweghe defeated compatriot Madison Brengle.

Across the English channel in Nottingham, American Allison Riske lost a tight final to Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (8), 7-5. It was Riske’s first WTA final of the year.