By Jack Cunniff
(August 21, 2014) NEW HAVEN – Samantha Stosur continued to improve her 2014 form with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Kirsten Flipkens in the Connecticut Open. It was a competitive match throughout, with Stosur pulling ahead at the end by capturing the final three games. But she had her hands full with Flipkens. The 28-year-old Belgian is a rarity on the WTA Tour, a player who relies on change of pace and placement, frequently looking to end points at the net. She has a solid serve, that troubled Stosur most of the evening, and is dangerous from all places on the court. Flipkens, best known as a 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist, has struggled through the majority of 2014. Her solid play in New Haven shows that Flipkens is no fluke, and will continue to be a tough opponent for the top players.
Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters put women’s tennis on the map for Belgium. As they began their success in the pro ranks, Flipkens was right behind, winning the Junior Girls titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2003. Results on the pro tour did not come immediately. Her career was beset by injuries, although she achieved moderate success to earn a career-high ranking of No. 59 in June, 2010. Her lowest point came in April, 2012. Diagnosed with blood clots in her calf, she was forced off the tour for two months. Shortly after, the Flemish Tennis Foundation pulled their funding for Flipkens. Her ranking dropped to No. 262, too low to enter Wimbledon qualifying. Flipkens was able to play qualifying for the Wimbledon grass court warmup in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and she made the most of it. She qualified then reached the semifinals without dropping a set. Along the way, she defeated Roberta Vinci and Stosur.
This was the spark Flipkens needed. She won two ITF tournaments in the summer of 2012, then qualified for the U.S. Open before falling to No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the second round. After the U.S. Open, she won her first WTA event in Quebec City, defeating four Top Sixty players. Throughout this period, without the support of her federation, Flipkens was on her own with no coach, no hitting partners, and no on-site support system. She relied on support from her home base, including her good friend Clijsters.
After Quebec City, Flipkens was on a roll. In her next four events, she reached two semifinals and one quarterfinal. At the 2013 Australian Open, she reached the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event for the first time. Strong results continued, and her ranking was No. 20 entering Wimbledon. The next two weeks at the All England Club were the pinnacle of her career, culminating in a quarterfinal Wimbledon win over the 2011 champion Kvitova. A few weeks later, a win over Venus Williams in Toronto pushed her ranking to No. 13, which remains a career high.
This year has not been as successful for Flipkens. Her best result remains a semifinal in Auckland, the opening event of 2014. Her defeat of No. 19 Petkovic in the second round of the Connecticut Open was her best win of the year, and three sets against an in-form Stosur shows that she’s not ready to fade from view quite yet.
Around the grounds… It was a rematch of the Wimbledon quarterfinal between Petra Kvitiova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, with the same result. Kvitova was down a break early, but swept through ten of the last eleven games to advance 6-4, 6-1… Magdalena Rybarikova withstood a second set 6-0 drubbing at the hands of American Allison Riske, and reached the semifinals 7-5, 0-6, 6-4. Riske battled throughout the third set, but three double faults in the sixth game didn’t help her cause… Camila Giorgi wasn’t as dominant in the quarterfinals, as she dropped serve six times in her match against Garbine Muguruza. But the Italian played her game of all-court aggression to reach her second semifinal of the year, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.
CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
17-23 AUGUST 2014
RESULTS – AUGUST 21, 2014
Singles – Quarterfinals
 P Kvitova (CZE) d B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 64 61
M Rybarikova (SVK) d A Riske (USA) 75 06 64
C Giorgi (ITA) d G Muguruza (ESP) 64 67(4) 62
[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d [WC] K Flipkens (BEL) 63 46 63
Doubles – Quarterfinals
C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) d  C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) 76(2) 64
M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) d  A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) 16 75 10-7
ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2014
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs C Giorgi (ITA)
WTA – D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) vs A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [WC] S Stosur (AUS) vs  P Kvitova (CZE)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)