By Jack Cunniff
(August 23. 2014) NEW HAVEN – In 2013, Petra Kvitova became known in print media as “P3tra”, due to her propensity to get involved in three set matches. In more than half of her 2013 matches (38 of 74), Kvitova was extended to a decisive third set. In the finals of the 2014 Connecticut Open, it was a new P3tra: She won the championship match with relative ease in straight sets over Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-4, 6-2. She didn’t drop a set during the entire tournament. The only “best of three” from Kvitova was winning her second of three Connecticut Opens. She first won the title in 2012, was runner-up to Simona Halep in 2013, and now has regained the title in 2014.
There were shades of P3tra in the opening set. She broke Rybarikova’s serve in the sixth game, to grab a 4-2 lead. When serving for the opening set, a double fault and two errors allowed Rybarikova a reprieve. Petra continued to hit her heavy groundstrokes, and earned a second service break of the set to win it 6-4.
Rybarikova tried to mix the pace of her shots, but Kvitova continued to apply the pressure. She dropped only four points on serve in the second set, and struck a sharply angled backhand return of serve to win the match. Rybarikova competed as best she could, although a hamstring injury obtained during her semifinal against Camila Giorgi impacted her mobility.
Kvitova has been in good form for most of the summer. She has won 16 of her last 19 matches, while capturing two tournament titles, bringing her career total to 13. The question is whether she can carry that form into the U.S. Open. The final Grand Slam event of the year begins next week, and Kvitova has never been past the fourth round. In the last two years, she had great form from New Haven entering the event, but suffered upset losses both years. Her comfort in New Haven does not always translate to the circus of New York City. As Kvitova states, “New York is pretty crowded. It’s always big show. A lot of people everywhere. I’m more the person who is little bit calm.”
Rybarikova will re-enter the Top Fifty rankings on the strength of this result, her first appearance in a Premier final. She played well and used all of her weapons to defeat three higher ranked opponents, including world No. 2 Simona Halep. But she too may find her New Haven form fleeting; not only is she nursing the hamstring injury, she must face tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki in the opening round of the U.S. Open.