STANFORD, CA, USA - In the first career meeting between compatriots CoCo Vandeweghe and CiCi Bellis, it was the No.6 seeded Vandeweghe who advanced to the final at the Bank of the West Classic on Saturday, surrendering just four games in a 6-3, 6-1 semifinal victory.
The 25-year-old was runner-up to Serena Williams at the 2012 edition of the tournament, and has returned to the final without the loss of a set in four matches this week.
"I'm five years older, and hopefully I'm more mature," Vandeweghe said on-court when reflecting on her last appearance in the Stanford final. "I think [I'm] a little bit of a different tennis player. You grow and evolve as a tennis player and as a person, and I think especially in the last two years, it's been kind of clicking in that regard."
Though she lost her serve for the first time this week in the opening set, Vandeweghe largely dominated over the course of the 65-minute encounter.
The No.6 seed broke Bellis' serve a total of five times in the match, struck seven aces, and won over 80% of her first-serve points.
Ever the aggressor, Vandeweghe clocked 30 winners over the course of the match, and limited herself to just 17 unforced errors. She also found success at the net, winning 10 of 13 points in her forays forward.
"Today's match was pretty straightforward - it was me playing tennis and playing tennis well," Vandeweghe said. "I think right now, it's just checking off a couple of different things, improvements that I want to see get better. I'm feeling healthy... being healthy is an even better feeling."
Vandeweghe got out to a quick start, winning eight of the first nine points to set the tone for the match. Bellis began to work her way into the match, however, over the course of the next three games, as she stretched every one to deuce.
However, it was the No.6 seed who won the majority of the mini-battles, and though she did not convert on a break-point opportunity to lead 3-0, she saved a pair in a lengthy fourth game and added an insurance break to open up a 5-1 lead.
Bellis battled back from there, becoming the first player to break Vandeweghe this week, in the eighth game, but the 2012 runner-up reset and found her range to nab a third break in the ninth game and a one-set lead.
The second set was largely on the elder American's racquet, and she broke through in the fourth game to lead 3-1 on her fourth break point. A second break came her way in the sixth game, and precise serving from Vandeweghe's side of the court saw the No.8 seed manage to win just four points on return over the course of the set.