STANFORD, CA, USA - For the first time since the WTA Championships in November 2009 there will be an all-American final on the WTA, as Serena Williams and Coco Vandeweghe will battle it out for the Stanford title.
Vandeweghe was the first to advance - playing in her very first WTA semifinal the 20-year-old raised her own bar with a 62 36 62 victory over No.5 seed Yanina Wickmayer, serving particularly well - she won 86% of her first serve points in the match, getting broken just once. She broke Wickmayer four times.
"I'm winning a lot of points on my first serve, which is key, but I've got to get my first serve percentage up," said Vandeweghe, whose first serve percentage was 47% for the match. "I spoke to Jan-Michael on the phone afterwards and he told me I had to get that up, but that I was hitting my second serves well, and just keep doing what I'm doing, because I'm playing great tennis this week."
Vandeweghe was thrilled to be in her first WTA final. "I'm really excited right now to be in the finals - it's a dream come true for me," she beamed. "Hopefully it's a good omen for me for the rest of the summer. As an American you want to do well in the summer hardcourt series, and of course going into the US Open."
The No.120-ranked Vandeweghe will now break back into the Top 100, guaranteeing her direct entry into the US Open. She is also the first lucky loser to reach the final of a WTA event since Melinda Czink at Canberra in 2005.
At night, No.1 seed Serena Williams was just too much for Sorana Cirstea, needing just 60 minutes to crush the No.9-seeded Romanian, 61 62. Williams had her power game under control, hitting 14 winners to 14 unforced errors, while Cirstea's 10 winners were outweighed by a whopping 32 unforced errors.
"I think we were both disappointed tonight because we both have big serves, and tonight for whatever reason we weren't able to do it," Williams said. "I wasn't too happy with how I was playing today. I did what I had to do to win today.
"I'm happy to win though, and it's really good to be back in the final. I want to do well here. I have points to defend, which is really motivating for me."
Williams has now won 27 of her last 28 matches and is going for her 43rd WTA title, which would tie her with Venus Williams for most among active players.
Williams and Vandeweghe will be playing each other for the first time. And Vandeweghe does have one Top 10 win to her name - she beat then-World No.9 Vera Zvonareva in 2010 at San Diego, also during the summer season.
"Coco has done well. She's going to go out tomorrow and go for the glory. I'm going to do the same thing," Williams said. "I'm so glad she's American. If she goes all the way tomorrow and wins, I'll be really, really happy for her."