Romania’s Sorana Cirstea had little trouble beating American Coco Vandeweghe in a 6-4 6-2 first-round victory at the Australian Open on Monday.
“The first round is never easy and the first Grand Slam of the year you’re a little more nervous than usual,” Cirstea said. “I’m happy with the win and relieved.”
In the opening set, the 27th seeded Cirstea was able to take advantage of both break points she was presented. The significant service break came in the final game of the set when Vandeweghe carelessly netted a backhand at 15-40 to surrender the first set.
Vandeweghe had more opportunities in the first set with five break points but only capitalised on one of those chances.
Cirstea took the winning edge in the second by breaking Vandeweghe’s serve in the sixth game to go ahead 4-2. Cirstea closed out the match with a second service break, although she squandered first two match points from 0-40 in that eighth game.
On the third match point Cirstea pulled Vandeweghe out of position and then hit a winning inside-out crosscourt forehand from mid-court range to win the match in 78 minutes.
Cirstea was clearly the steadier player throughout the match. She rarely did anything spectacular, but capably waited for Vandeweghe’s mistakes – and the American obliged with 34 unforced errors to only 17 for Cirstea.
“I think I was quite consistent out there and that was what I was aiming for,” Cirstea said. “I’ve done my job for the day. I was trying to serve and return good."
The tall and strong Vandeweghe was erratic and heavy-footed and she was often found out of position and appeared to hit the ball aimlessly.
Heading into the Australian Open, Cirstea, the world No.29, tuned up at the Hobart International, reaching the second round. She has finished the past five seasons ranked in the top 100, and her year-end No.27 ranking for 2012 was her first career top 30.
In contrast, the 99th-ranked Vandeweghe fell in the second round of qualifying at Sydney. She finished the 2012 season with her first top 100 ranking (No.95) and reached her first tour final at Stanford where she lost to Serena Williams.
But Vandeweghe hasn’t won a tour-level match since last July when she reached the quarter-finals at the Washington DC tournament, losing to fellow American Vania King.