By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Lacking any actual pyrotechnics, Coco Vandeweghe was at least armed with a booming serve as she led an American contingent into the second round of Wimbledon on Independence Day.
The hard-hitting 25-year-old former quarter-finalist cracked down several deliveries near the 120 mph mark as she powered past Germany’s Mona Barthel 7-5 6-2.
Jack Sock, the 17th seed, followed suit in the men’s singles and was joined in round two by John Isner, Jared Donaldson, Ryan Harrison and 19-year-old Frances Tiafoe who chalked up his maiden Wimbledon victory.
Vandeweghe, working with Australian former men’s champion Pat Cash, said her win was a special way to mark the day.
“I had to make sure I had an American flag T-shirt, the only one that I brought,” the 24th seed told reporters.
“I was talking about what’s the most American thing we can do today to celebrate the fourth? Unfortunately, couldn’t find any fireworks online or sparklers or anything like that.
“I think it’s for the patriotic bunch that are here, it’s special for us.”
Eight years ago on July 4 Serena Williams beat sister Venus to win Wimbledon and, with the 23-times grand slam champion absent on maternity leave, American hopes of a winner this year have been reduced.
Vandeweghe, who also reached the fourth round last year, used her aggressive style to great effect when she reached the Australian Open semi-finals this year, losing to Venus.
Her build-up to Wimbledon was marred by a split with coach Craig Kardon, but she has since recruited Cash who won the Wimbledon title 30 years ago.
Asked what he brings, apart from his knowledge of 80s rock music, she replied: “…he’s on top of me about mentally staying with it and everything like that, and it’s a constant harping on that one. I think he said that a bunch, just: ‘Your presence can sometimes get you through difficult situations’.”
Vandeweghe will face Tatjana Maria of Germany next.
In three all-American women’s clashes on Tuesday Shelby Rogers beat Julia Boserup, Alison Riske saw off Sloane Stephens and Varvara Lepchenko beat 28th seed Lauren Davis.
Wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands edged out Pole Magda Linette.
Sock is the highest-ranked American male in the draw (18th), but having never gone past the third round few will be expecting him to go where the likes of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and before them John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors trod.
“Obviously, we know the history of American tennis and the accomplishments and achievements and legends we have had in this sport coming out of the U.S.,” Sock said after a 6-3 4-6 7-6(4) 6-3 defeat of Chilean youngster Christian Garin.
“Trying to focus on doing our best and keep pushing each other to hopefully get that standard back to what the fans expect from us. But it’s a rough sport.”
Sock will be confident of at least matching his 2016 run as he plays Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner next.
Isner, seeded 23, beat fellow American Taylor Fritz is straight sets but pride of place went to Tiafoe who recorded only his second victory in grand slam play, beating experienced Dutchman Robin Haase in four sets.
German 10th seed Alexander Zverev is next for Tiafoe – one of eight American men through to the second round.
Ten American women made it through, with 10th seed Venus Williams, the five-times champion, in action on Wednesday against China’s Qiang Wang.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Ken Ferris)