2014/10/25

Simona Halep Heads for New York on a Roll

By Jack Cunniff

(August 24, 2013) NEW HAVEN – For Simona Halep, it all came together in Rome. Ranked 64th at the time, she defeated three players ranked in the Top Twenty en route to the semifinals, where she lost to Serena Williams.  Her strong form continued with tournament victories in Nurnberg, s’Hertogenbosch, and Budapest. And on the eve of the U.S. Open, she has now won her fourth title of 2013, and largest of her career, taking the New Haven Open title over Petra Kvitova.

It is Halep’s first Premier title on the WTA Tour, and it will vault her into the world’s Top Twenty; she is expected to be No. 19 on Monday.  How will she feel as one of the top women’s players?  Based on an 11-4 record vs. the Top Twenty since Rome, she certainly belongs.

Four thousand fans arrived at Yale today to watch the New Haven Open final, probably expecting   the defending champion, Kvitova, to repeat. The 23-year-old is a former Wimbledon champion, a former world No. 2, and the third seed. But as the players warmed up, emcee Wayne Bryan listed the recent achievements of the unseeded Halep; she was deserving of her spot in the final.

In the first few games, Kvitova began the way she finished her semifinal match, when she crushed Klara Zakopalova 6-0, 6-1. She held serve easily, and had a 15-40 advantage in each of Halep’s first two service games. Halep successfully fought her way through her service games, then broke Kvitova’s service for a 3-2 lead. That lead to a flurry of unforced errors from Kvitova that continued for the remainder of the match.  The 21-year-old from Romania went on a streak of nine straight games, to lead 6-2, 4-0.  While Kvitova managed to salvage her final two service games, Halep sealed the title with an ace, 6-2, 6-2.

Halep becomes only the second unseeded player to win the title in New Haven; her semifinal victim, Caroline Wozniacki, was the first in 2008. She becomes the tenth different player to capture the title in New Haven since the event has been played at Yale University in 1998. Seven of the previous nine champions also have Grand Sam Singles titles on their résumé.

In Doubles action, Sania Mirza and Zheng Jie took the title in straight sets over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Katarina Srebotnik, 6-3, 6-4.  Mirza and Zheng were playing in their third hard court event this summer as a duo, and had struggled in their earlier events. Those struggles continued in the first two rounds in New Haven, as the pair had to battle through 10-8 third set scores in both of those matches to stay alive. But they’ve started to gel as a team, and won in straight sets in the semifinals and final to take the trophy. As Mirza noted afterwards, “I think that you got to win, so to say, a couple ugly matches.” They played their best today against the veteran duo of Srebotnik and Medina Garrigues, who are playing together for the first time in eight years.

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Reversal of Fortune in New Haven

Wozniacki frustrated

By Jack Cunniff

(August 23, 2013) Yesterday,  Caroline Wozniacki was asked about her high quality play in the quarterfinals of the New Haven Open against Sloane Stephens. “You never know,” she replied, “Every match is different.  Sometimes you feel really great out there.  Sometimes it’s a struggle, but you need to find a way to win.  Sometimes it’s a little up and down.”  Sure enough, today’s semifinal action at Yale proved to be a complete reversal from the form the competitors displayed in their quarterfinals.
Defending champion Petra Kvitova entered the semifinals today having been extended to three sets in each of her last six matches, including all three matches she played in New Haven.  In fact, 12 of her last 15 matches, dating back to the Eastbourne event in June, have gone the distance.  Kvitova had played a WTA Tour-leading 30 three set  matches.  But today she cruised through her semifinal against Klara Zakopalova.  Kvitova was a model of efficiency against her friend and Czech countrywoman Zakopalova.  Despite serving three double faults in the match, Kvitova’s serve was a huge weapon; she won 23 of 26 first serve points, and never faced a break point in the match.  The crowd cheered enthusiastically for Zakopalova when she finally held serve in the twelfth game, but the end result was no longer in doubt, and Kvitova advanced 6-0, 6-1.
The evening match saw 4-time New Haven champion Caroline Wozniacki square off against Simona Halep, the 21-year-old Romanian who has won three events over the summer.  Wozniacki, so sharp in the quarterfinals against Stephens, could not recapture that form today.  She made too many errors and seemed easily flustered in the first set.  Halep, with the experience she’s gained this year, took advantage.  After Wozniacki lost the opening set 6-2, she tried to change tactics. She hit a higher ball with little pace, and mixed in some drop shots. The strategy partially worked, as it forced Halep into more errors, but Halep still had full control of the match. She broke Wozniacki at 5-5 in the second set, and held her nerve to serve out the match, 6-2, 7-5.
Halep will face Kvitova for the first time in her career in tomorrow’s Championship match.
Around the Grounds… Kvitova is hoping to defend a title successfully for the first time tomorrow. “I have one more new motivation then,” she said when reminded she’s never defended a title…. Wozniacki was asked about Halep’s sudden improvement, and spoke of how quickly intangibles like confidence can turn around someone’s game. “You know, the thing is, it can switch so quickly.  It can be one match that changes completely.  All of a sudden you feel like you’re playing great, you’re on a roll. Yeah, it’s so little, and it can do so much to your game.”… Defending doubles champion Liezel Huber and partner Nuria Llagostera Vives were eliminated in the Doubles semifinals by Anabel Medina Garrigues and Katarina Srebotnik.  Huber won the 2012 New Haven Open title with Lisa Raymond; Huber/Llagostera Vives had elimanted Raymond and current partner Flavia Pennetta in the opening round. Medina Garrigues and Srebotnik, the second seeds, take on The No. 3 seeds Sania Mirza and Jie Zheng in Sunday’s championship match.
Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.
 NEW HAVEN OPEN AT YALE
New Haven, CT, USA
August 18-24, 2013
$690,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Friday, August 23, 2013
Singles – Semifinals
(3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 60 61
Simona Halep (ROU) d. (4) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 62 75

Doubles – Semifinals
(2) Medina Garrigues/Srebotnik (ESP/SLO) d. (4) Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) 46 75 101 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Saturday, August 24, 2013
Stadium (from 12.25hrs)
1. Doubles Final: Mirza/Zheng vs. Medina Garrigues/Srebotnik
2. Singles Final: Simona Halep vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 15.00hrs)

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Dear Guillermo Vilas, My Father Thanks You and I Thank You

 

By Karen Pestaina

(AUGUST 23, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – It is rare that I write anything personal on this website. I’ve been working in media since I was in High School and as primarily a broadcast journalist, being objective in reporting is my job. I’ve worked in places from ballparks to war zones so I take being media very seriously. I see my role of that of a journalist as that of a public servant in which I report facts and not opinion. I always tell people to read as much as they can from all types of sources to form their own truths. As they say – don’t believe everything you read.

This is one day I can’t be objective. Last Saturday, I was about to make my way out the door to cover the New Haven Open. About two blocks later, my mother called me to tell me that my father had died twenty minutes earlier. My father had been ill for a long time, almost two years, I’d been expecting it. But even though I expected that the day when the horrible news would come, I was still in shock when it actually happened.

I’ve been a tennis fan all of my life and the love of the sport was instilled in me by my father – a physician who would never play golf, but tennis on Wednesdays. My father hated golf and turned on golf if he wanted to take a nap. I must confess, I have done the same thing. My love for tennis came in earnest when as a child my father took me to the Men’s Finals of the 1977 US Open which was the last one played at Forest Hills. It was my first live tennis match.

Argentina’s Guillermo Vilas upset American Jimmy Connors in four sets. The one thing I remember from that match was Vilas being picked up and carried around by fans on the court as though he were some sort of hero. I remember thinking, if this happens at the end of every match this is some exciting sport. I did not know what the significance of this match was, I just know that it was exciting to watch. Needless to say that after this match I became a huge tennis fan. My father was a huge Vilas fan before this, not so much about his tennis or his work ethic but about his personality. How many players today write books of poetry as he did.

Let me tell you about my father, all of his life he was a loyal subject of the British Empire, despite becoming a citizen of the United States a few years after I was born. I was the first American in my family. He always said to others that he spoke “the King’s English” and not the Queen’s because when he was born a King was on the throne. My father kept his British accent until the day he died despite having lived in the US for 50 years.

Being the American Brit as he was, he rarely showed any emotion. The only time I ever saw him come close to crying was when my oldest brother died as a teenager. He ruled our household like a monarchy, sometimes like a benevolent dictator, but he was always up for a debate on any subject in the book. He had an IQ higher than Marion Bartoli, but he rarely ever spoke about it. It was not his way to brag or boast – about anything. He was a firm believer in Judeo-Christian values which meant being humble.

Having grown up in a British territory my father loved three sports – Cricket, football (soccer) and tennis. He came to love baseball, basketball and football when he emigrated to the US but that never altered his love for the big three – Cricket, football and tennis.

After my first visit to the US Open, it became a family ritual to attend the US Open every year. We always would attend the first few days of the tournament in order to see all of the players. Back then in the late 70’s and early 80’s not as many people attended the early rounds, so more times than not, we would sit in the sponsor’s seats to watch some of the matches. In those days those seats were left unfilled in the early rounds of the tournament.

In those days my father would take myself, my second brother and a sister to the matches, and one thing we were forced to do was to watch at least one match which featured a British player. I remember one time that a match with a British player was taking place at the same time as a Bjorn Borg match! My sister, who was a huge Borg fan was furious, but there was nothing she could do, we all had to be together as a family – end of discussion.

One year when one of my Aunts came to visit for the US Open, we went up to the ticket booth to buy “day of” tickets. A British player that made it into the main draw (I don’t remember the name of the player) heard my Aunt speaking in her British accent and asked us if we would like his extra tickets. Of course she took them and we sat in what was the equivalent of the player friend’s box then and cheered him on, sadly he lost that day.

My father and his family were seriously tennis fanatics – I was too young to remember this but my mother told me when Arthur Ashe took out Jimmy Connors to win the Wimbledon title, my father was on the phone with one of my uncles in London for the entire match! A two-hour plus phone call from New York to London must have cost a fortune. So why did my father do this? Wimbledon was not shown live in 1975 in the US back then. He wanted to witness history in “real time,” even though it meant “watching it” with one of his brothers through the telephone.

My father often discussed his favorite players in tennis history. Above all for him was Rod Laver. My father said that if someone else can win two real grand slams, then they’ll be my favorite player. His second favorite male player or as he would have said, his favorite player of the “modern age,” was Pete Sampras. My father loved the serve and volleyers. In fact although he enjoyed watching Roger Federer play, he felt that the Swiss should come into net more. He also would speak so enthusiastically about Pancho Gonzalez, how when he played it was though he was “fighting to save his life.”

As for the women, my father admired Althea Gibson for her spirit and drive in a world which did not want to accept a black woman playing tennis. He also enjoyed watching Billie Jean King and Chris Evert and had a crush on Evonne Goolagong. Serena Williams may have the most major championships in her family, but Venus won my father’s heart. My Dad used to tell me that she reminded him of Althea Gibson and wished that Venus would come to net as much as Gibson did.

As Wimbledon has many traditions, we had a Wimbledon tradition in our household. Our family would all sit and watch the men’s final on TV. When I was little, the men’s final took place on a Saturday. Due to the power of television contracts over the years, the final was switched to Sunday. With the Sunday men’s finals this would mean that we would have to miss church – and we would never miss church. ONLY for the Wimbledon men’s final would we ever miss church on Sunday.

As we were blessed to have a major in our backyard, the US Open, it meant no family events could be planned during those two weekends within the tournament. Our family friends and extended family knew that none of us would be attending barbeques or parties if it was scheduled during the US Open.

As much as my father loved the game, he did not want it to become anyone’s profession – especially his children’s. At one point I was a decent player as a child and played a few tournaments, not that I wanted to become a pro someday. This was not what my dad wanted. He had higher aspirations for his children and that was the end of my days of competition as a junior. I forgave my father about this years later when I came to understand why he was that way.

Since the late 70’s with the exception of one year when I was beginning graduate school, I’ve attended the US Open. Needless to say I’ve kept up with news of Guillermo Vilas through the years and had the chance to actually meet him and speak with him about 10 years ago at the US Open. When I told my father about it, he was absolutely thrilled.

Although he is old enough to be my father, I’ve had a crush on him ever since I saw him win the US Open. Just ask my husband – it must drive him crazy when I talk about the man who should have been No. 1 in 1977, but he never lets on.

Today when I think of Vilas I think about my  happy childhood and my father teaching me to love the game of tennis. Indirectly I have Vilas to thank for my love of this sport.

I have taught that love of tennis that my father taught me to both my husband and my son and they both are as almost obsessed with the sport as I am. Now my husband and I fight over which one of us will attend the next Davis Cup tie as our son begs us to take him with us.

I guess it is fitting that my father should pass on during the week before the US Open as it was “our time” of year.

As my father had Alzheimer’s for almost the past two years, he “missed” Andy Murray win the Olympic Gold medal for singles, the US Open and more importantly Wimbledon. Despite now being an American, my father, a former British subject who never lost his “Britishness,” would have been so proud of him.

During my father’s wake, I spent hours talking to tennis-obsessed relatives about today’s game. My uncles are also major Venus Williams fans and don’t want to see her retire. Despite my dad’s body in full view being there in his coffin right in front of the room of the funeral home, I held back my emotions like the daughter of a good citizen of the British Empire – stiff upper lip and all that.

During the funeral on Friday, I began to give my testimonial about my dad. My dad was so proud of being able to live his dream of becoming a doctor that I had to speak about his pure love and joy of his profession. He knew he wanted to be a doctor since he was eight years old. It was then that my tears finally flowed for my father. He taught me and my siblings to stand on our own, to fight for what we want in this world, and the importance of social responsibility, regardless of our professions.

How fitting that after the funeral on Friday, my father was buried in a cemetery less than a mile from where I learned to play tennis.

Incidentally, the day that my father died last weekend was Guillermo Vilas’ birthday. My tweet wishing Vilas a happy birthday on the Tennis Panorama News’ twitter account came at the exact time my father was declared dead at 5:37 a.m. Eastern Time.

 

A tennis journalist friend relayed this to me after he heard about my dad’s passing on Vilas’ birthday: “….truly one of those coincidences that leads us to contemplate providence.”

As I prepare to cover the US Open as media next week, I do so with a heavy heart, but I never would have been here in the first place if it were not for love of the game my Dad taught me and of course Guillermo Vilas.

 

(I want to personally thank those who ran the site, the twitter and covered tournaments and events for me in my absence, while I had to deal with my father’s passing – Josh Meiseles, Vito Ellison, Jack Cunniff and especially Junior Williams.)

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Quarterfinal Action – and Hurricanes, Fires, Cats and Dogs in New Haven

Caroline Wozniacki

By Jack Cunniff

(August 22, 2013) NEW HAVEN – The previous two New Haven Open champions, Caroline Wozniacki (2008-2011) and Petra Kvitova (2012) continued on course for a potential final round clash, each earning quarterfinal victories today.  But the similarities ended there. Kvitova once again battled through a three set match, her third here at New Haven, and sixth consecutive overall.  In contrast, Wozniacki looked sharp in dispatching a very dangerous Sloane Stephens in straight sets. Kvitova, the third seed here, had a scratchy start against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She served two double faults in her opening game, and managed to hold serve only once in the opening set. Her Russian opponent didn’t help the situation; Pavlyuchenkova played extremely well, striking 10 winners against only 4 unforced errors to take the opening set 6-2. Kvitova began to find her range in the second set, and waited out a rain delay to take the second set by the same 6-2 score. Kvitova suffered another bad patch early in the third set, dropping nine points in a row during one stretch. But she steadied herself, and capitalized on two Pavlyuchenkova double faults to break serve in the final game and take the match, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. Wozniacki fell behind early as well, but that was due to the fine play of Stephens during the evening match. As the number four seed said after the match, “Sloane just, bam, hammered winners right and left.” Stephens served for the opening set at 5-4, but Wozniacki stayed aggressive. She mixed her solid baseline play with several forays to net to break back and capture the opening set in a tiebreak, 8-6. The second set featured a very focused Wozniacki vs. an increasingly frustrated Stephens, who managed only seven points in the Dane’s four service games. Wozniacki advances to the semifinals, 7-6(6), 6-2.

Around the Grounds: Kvitova and Wozniacki have more work to do before potentially facing off in Saturday’s final. Their semifinal opponents will be Klara Zakopalova and Simona Halep, respectively. Zakopalova came from behind in her quarterfinal vs. 2009 New Haven finalist Elena Vesnina 4-6, 6-0, 6-4; while Halep eliminated Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets, 6-1 7-6(6). Both winners will be playing in their first New Haven Open semifinal… A fire alarm went off yesterday as a result of someone cooking food in the player’s lounge, which made for an eventful afternoon. “We were actually laughing because the outside was raining cats and dogs, and then was fire alarm,” Kvitova remarked, “I wasn’t cooking, so that’s good.”… Wozniacki, asked to look back over her years in New Haven: “Thank you for making me feel old.  I’m really not.” She reflected on the variety of matches she’s had to play at Yale. “I’ve played a lot of good matches, a lot of tough matches.  I’ve had rain delays.  I’ve played indoors [2009 semifinals], outdoors in the heat, night sessions.  I’ve played with some wind, with a hurricane coming in [2011 final]. You know, I played with a bit of everything.”
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New Haven Open Preview

wick02

By Jack Cunniff

(August 18, 2013) NEW HAVEN – A quick look at the leading contenders for the 2013 New Haven Open title, by Jack Cunniiff. Follow Jack on twitter (@jrcunniff) for tennis facts and trivia.

 

The New Haven Open at Yale had been owned by Caroline Wozniacki, as she swept to four straight titles in 2008-2011.  But a bad knee, and a tough opponent in Maria Kirilenko ended Wozniacki’s stretch of 20 straight matches won at New Haven in the 2012 semifinals.  Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, swept in last year to take the title in a straight set win over Kirilenko.

 

For the 2013 edition, both players have returned, and are looking to add to their New Haven success.  Wozniacki has had a difficult year by her standards, reaching only one final, in Indian Wells, where she lost to Maria Sharapova. In April she suffered a five match losing streak on clay.  But finally, in Cincinnati, the Dane seemed to get her groove back, defeating Kvitova in the third round, before losing a close battle to world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals.

 

Kvitova has also struggled recently, as she hasn’t passed the quarterfinals in an event since April.  She did score a victory over the 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur in Toronto, so there are signs of life.  Compared to Kvitova’s U.S. Open Series success last summer, her recent play is a letdown.

 

Sara Errani, the 5’4″ Italian who reached the French Open finals last year, has surprised many by maintaining her Top Ten form in 2013.  She comes into New Haven as the top seed for the event, on the strength of her No. 6 ranking.  Semifinal results at the French Open, Madrid, and Rome, and a finals appearance in Palermo make her one of the more successful players in recent months, but all those results came on European clay.  The New Haven hard courts may prove a different challenge.

 

Sloane Stephens, the number two ranked American woman made a name for herself in 2013 by defeating Serena Williams at the Australian Open.  Last week, Stephens had her second biggest career win, eliminating Maria Sharapova from Cincinnati.  Seeded sixth in New Haven, Stephens is looking for success on U.S. soil, which has eluded her all season; her record in U.S. events stands at 3-6.

 

The No. 2 seed in the New Haven draw is Angelique Kerber. The German has had great success on U.S. hard courts in the past (2011 U.S. Open semifinalist, 2012 Cincinnati runner-up), but has a modest 4-3 record on hard courts this summer. Wozniacki recommended that Kerber make her first appearance in New Haven; perhaps she provided a few tips on how to succeed on these courts.

 

Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki was the first player to advance in New Haven, defeating Kristina Mladenovic in Sunday’s only first round match.  Lisicki, seeded eighth, has been short on match play after Wimbledon.  A wrist injury kept her out after Wimbledon, and she played only one hard court match, an opening round loss to Jelena Jankovic in Cincinnati.  If she can maintain her opening round New Haven form, Lisicki will be difficult to beat.

 

Other players vying for the New Haven title are Roberta Vinci, the world’s No. 1 doubles player along with Errani; Dominika Cibulkova, winner of the Stanford title over Agnieszka Radwanska; and Sorana Cirstea, the runner-up to Serena Williams in Toronto two weeks ago.

 

Around The Grounds

Much has been made recently of the diminishing number of teenaged players in Women’s tennis, but the final round of New Haven Qualifying featured two matches with both competitors in their teens.  Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico played fellow 19-year-old Caroline Garcia of France, while Ukrainian Elina Svitolina and Slovakian Anna Schmiedlova, both 18, faced off.  Puig and Schmiedlova both won today, and Svitolina advanced as a lucky loser with the withdrawal of Magdalena Rybarikova with a lower back injury…

 

American Alison Riske continued her strong form of the summer with a straight set win over Yanina Wickmayer, putting Riske into the main draw, but the match had  some drama. With Riske serving 2-1 in the second set, a groudstroke exchange featured a Riske shot called long on the baseline which was overruled by the chair umpire. The umpire awarded the point to Riske, assessing that that Wickmayer couldn’t reach the ball, but Wickmayer disagreed. The Belgian refused to continue play until the referee was called to the court. She pleaded her case, but to no avail, and was out of sorts for the remainder of the match….

 

Stephanie Voegele advanced through qualifying when her opponent Yaroslava Shvedova retired with a forearm injury. Shvedova was playing her first event since Wimbledon as she struggles with the injury…

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Qualified Success in New Haven

garcia 08.17.2013

Caroline Garcia

By Jack Cunniff

(August 17, 2013) NEW HAVEN – The Women’s Singles Qualifying draw of the New Haven Open is always an interesting mix.  The strength of the Women’s Singles draw translates to several Top 50 players placed in qualifying to earn their way to the main draw.  And there are some more obscure players, ranked outside of the WTA Top 200.  But because qualifying for the U.S. Open is held the same week as New Haven, the bulk of players ranked between 100 and 200 are missing from action.

(Of course, an enterprising player could always attempt to play both U.S. Open qualifying and a tour event, as John Ross did in 1987. Ross, an American, alternated between the U.S. Open qualifying at The National Tennis Center, and the ATP stop in Rye, NY.  He was successful, too, defeating Thomas Muster and Jaime Yzaga en route to the finals at Rye, and qualifying for the U.S. Open.)

Most of the qualifying draw is comprised of players ranked in the 40-100 range, which means that qualifiers often find success in the New Haven main draw.  In 2011, Petra Cetkovska was ranked No. 40, successfully played her way to the main draw, then defeated three of the top five seeds (Agnieszka Radwanska, Marion Bartoli, and Li Na) en route to the finals.  Cetkovska wasn’t the first qualifier in recent memory to reach the finals; in 2007, Agnes Szavay qualified then reached the final as well.

So which 2013 qualifier might be destined for success?

The list of candidates featured a former Wimbledon semifinalist (Tsvetana Pironkova, 2010), a former U.S. Open semifinalist (Yanina Wickmayer, 2009), and a former top-ten player who reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals on three occasions (Flavia Pennetta, 2008-09, 2011).  But two of those players were ushered out in the second round of qualifying.

Pennetta, the 31-year-old Italian veteran still on the comeback trail from wrist surgery a year ago, was facing a player more than a decade younger, 19-year-old Annika Beck.  Pennetta showed her old form in taking the first set, but midway through the second set she called the trainer for a lower back injury.  Once Beck closed out the second set, Pennetta was forced to retire the match.

Pironkova is better known for her grass court success, but showed solid hard court play early in the match against her teenage opponent, Caroline Garcia from France.  But Pironkova could only convert one of twenty break points in the first two sets.  Strong serving from Garcia in the third set troubled Pironkova, and Garcia prevailed, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.

Wickmayer had more success today, battling from a set down to eliminate Olga Puchkova.  Other players in the qualifying draw who hope to make an impression in the main draw of New Haven include Monica Puig, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last month; Elina Svitolina, an 18-year-old Ukranian who has won her last two events; Yaroslava Shvedova, the former Top Thirty player and Grand Slam Doubles champion best known for winning a “Golden Set” at 2012 Wimbledon; and Alison Riske, an American whose ranking has jumped from No. 171 in June to her current rank of No.98.

Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

NEW HAVEN OPEN AT YALE PRESENTED BY FIRST NIAGARA – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 690,000.00
AUGUST 16 – AUGUST 24, 2013

RESULTS – AUGUST 17, 2013

Women’s
Qualifying Singles – Second Round

Qualifying – E Svitolina (UKR) d J Cepelova (SVK) 63 63
Qualifying – A Beck (GER) d F Pennetta (ITA) 36 62 00 Retired
Qualifying – S Voegele (SUI) d A Cadantu (ROU) 62 60
Qualifying – M Puig (PUR) d S Arvidsson (SWE) 62 52 Retired
Qualifying – A Morita (JPN) d A Medina Garrigues (ESP) 63 62
Qualifying – Y Wickmayer (BEL) d O Puchkova (RUS) 36 61 63
Qualifying – K Knapp (ITA) d [WC] A Mueller (USA) 36 76(0) 62
Qualifying – C Garcia (FRA) d T Pironkova (BUL) 67(5) 76(2) 63
Qualifying – A Riske (USA) d I Begu (ROU) 26 76(2) 62
Qualifying – M Duque-Marino (COL) d A Hlavackova (CZE) 75 75
Qualifying – A Schmiedlova (SVK) d S Zhang (CHN) 64 63
Qualifying – Y Shvedova (KAZ) d Y Duan (CHN) 76(6) 64

USONP
Men’s
Singles
Championship – Quarterfinals

[1] J Dadamo (USA) d D Gooch (RSA) 62 64
M Pecotic (CRO) d [3] P Daciek (USA) 63 62
[4] C Boyce (USA) d E Orkin (USA) 63 62
T Larson (USA) d A Ball (USA) 62 63

USONP
Women’s
Singles
Championship – Quarterfinals

[1] M Hibi (JPN) d M Okruashvili (GEO) 62 61
[2] N Melichar (USA) d K Mckenna (USA) 64 63
L Graff (USA) d [3] N Kukharchuk (RUS) 67(3) 64 61
[4] P Porter (USA) d M Kelley (USA) 62 64

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, AUGUST 18, 2013
STADIUM start 11:00 am
Qualifying – A Beck (GER) vs K Knapp (ITA) – WTA
Qualifying – M Puig (PUR) vs C Garcia (FRA) – WTA

Not Before 2:00 PM
[7] S Lisicki (GER) vs K Mladenovic (FRA) – WTA
N Grandin (RSA) / D Jurak (CRO) vs [2] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 12:30 pm
Qualifying – M Duque-Marino (COL) vs A Morita (JPN) – WTA
Qualifying – A Riske (USA) vs Y Wickmayer (BEL) – WTA
S Aoyama (JPN) / A Klepac (SLO) vs I Begu (ROU) / O Govortsova (BLR) – WTA

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
Qualifying – E Svitolina (UKR) vs A Schmiedlova (SVK) – WTA
Qualifying – S Voegele (SUI) vs Y Shvedova (KAZ) – WTA

Not Before 2:00 PM
H Chan (TPE) / J Husarova (SVK) vs L Hradecka (CZE) / K Zakopalova (CZE) – WTA

COURT 3 start 12:00 noon
L Graff (USA) vs [2] N Melichar (USA) – USONP
[4] C Boyce (USA) vs M Pecotic (CRO) – USONP
[1] M Hibi (JPN) vs [4] P Porter (USA) – USONP
[1] J Dadamo (USA) vs T Larson (USA) – USONP

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Martina Hingis to Play Doubles at New Haven Open

2012 World Team Tennis

(July 18, 2013) NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Former No. 1 and recent inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Martina Hingis will compete in the doubles event at the 2013 New Haven Open at Yale a WTA event that is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series to be held August 16-24, 2013 at the Connecticut Tennis Center.

 

In August, the 32-year-old Hingis will make her second career appearance at the New Haven Open, where she was a singles quarterfinalist in 2002. This year will mark her doubles debut in New Haven, where she will be featured alongside a strong singles lineup including five of the WTA top 10 and two Wimbledon Champions in Marion Bartoli and Petra Kvitova.

 

“I am looking forward to coming back to the New Haven Open to compete in doubles,” said Hingis. “I feel in good shape at the moment after playing World Team Tennis. My competitive spirit is still very much alive and I love being out on court.”

 

 

“Adding newly minted Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Hingis to the New Haven Open at Yale doubles field is fantastic news, and will complement a very strong singles field featuring five of the top 10 players in the world,” said Worcester. “I can remember when Lindsay Davenport returned to play doubles in New Haven after she’d stepped away from the tour when her first child was born. Our fans came out in droves to support her, and I know they will do the same for Martina.”

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Wimbledon Winner Bartoli and Finalist Lisicki Join New Haven Open Field

Marion-Bartoli-Day-2-Press-Conference1-e1342178509523

NEW HAVEN, Conn., July 10, 2013 – Wimbledon Champion and World No. 7 Marion Bartoli and Wimbledon Finalist and World No. 18 Sabine Lisicki join four additional top 10 players in the field for the 2013 New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, a WTA event that is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series to be held August 16-24, 2013 at the Connecticut Tennis Center, it was announced today by Tournament Director Anne Worcester.

 

Bartoli is fresh off her first career Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, becoming just the sixth player in the open era to win the title without dropping a set. This was the 28-year-old Frenchwoman’s 47th appearance in a Grand Slam and her victory breaks the record for the longest wait to win a maiden Major title. Bartoli will be making her 10th appearance at the New Haven Open, where she has previously reached the quarterfinals six times.

 

She will be joined by Lisicki, who also reached this year’s Wimbledon final. The German pulled off two of the biggest wins of her career over the fortnight, upsetting World No. 1 and defending champion Serena Williams in the round of 16 and World No. 4 and defending finalist Agniezka Radwanska in the semifinals. This will be her first appearance at the New Haven Open.

 

Aside from Bartoli, four other players in this year’s New Haven Open player field are ranked in the WTA top 10: No. 6 and 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani, who has reached the semifinals or better in three of the last four Grand Slams; No. 8 and defending New Haven Open champion Petra Kvitova, who rolled to the 2012 title without dropping a set; No. 9 Angelique Kerber, who will be making her New Haven Open debut this year; and No. 10  and four-time champion Caroline Wozniacki, who is looking to regain her title after she was forced to retire in last year’s semifinals.

 

“It’s Wimbledon in New Haven! Not only do we have Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli and Wimbledon Finalist Sabine Lisicki, but we also have 2011 Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova and English sensation Laura Robson,” said Worcester. “All told, we have five of the top 10 players in the world, and this year’s New Haven Open player field is one of the strongest we’ve ever had.”

 

In addition to announcing the player field today, the New Haven Open and First Niagara, American tennis professional Melanie Oudin, and ESPN Anchor Prim Siripipat led a Free Lesson for youth in Newtown, Connecticut to show support from one Connecticut community to another. Oudin and USTA New England taught kids from the Newtown Parks & Rec Day Camp the basics of tennis and emphasized the importance of fitness in their lives.

 

“It was really special to be able to spread the joy of tennis to the kids in the Newtown community,” said Oudin. “Thank you so much to Anne for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful day.”

 

Joining the top-10 stars in this year’s field are six other top-25 players: No. 11 Roberta Vinci, who won a singles title in Katowice, Poland this year and is a part of the World No. 1 doubles team along with Errani; Carla Suarez Navarro, who has reached two WTA finals this year in Acapulco and Oeiras, Portugal; Dominika Cibulkova, who won the second singles title of her career in Carlsbad in 2012; Elena Vesnina and  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who each have won two WTA titles this year (Vesnina – Hobart and Eastbourne, Pavlyuchenkova – Monterrey and Oeiras); and Ekaterina Makarova, who, along with Vesnina, won the 2013 French Open doubles title.

 

Other top-30 players represented are No. 26 Sorana Cirstea, No. 27 Laura Robson, No. 29 Lucie Safarova and No. 30 Simona Halep. Cirstea is just a few spots off her career-high ranking of No. 22, which she reached in June; Robson is the youngest player in the field at only 19 years old and is the first British woman in the top 30 since 1987; Safarova was an integral part of the Czech Fed Cup team that captured back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012; and Halep currently sits at her career-high ranking after winning two WTA singles titles in the last month in Nurnberg, Germany and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.

 

Rounding out the field are young rising stars Kristina Mladenovic, who won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon, and Bojana Jovanovski; Urszula Radwanska, younger sister to World No. 4 Agnieszka; Peng Shuai, who won the doubles title at Wimbledon, and Magdalena Rybarikova.

 

This year the New Haven Open consolidates all seating into the Box Ring of the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.

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Kvitova Holds On To Take Her First New Haven Open Championship

By Jack Cunniff

New Haven Open at Yale– Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summary of Saturday’s Finals at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven:

Final: (2) Petra Kvitova def. (7) Maria Kirilenko, 7-6 (9), 7-5

 

The New Haven fans got their money’s worth in the final, as Petra Kvitova snuck past Maria Kirilenko in a closely contested match.  With both players holding set points in both sets, the match truly could have gone either way.

 

The finalists exchanged four service breaks within the opening six games of the match until they settled in at 3-3.  Nerves got the best of Kirilenko, and at 5-5, 30-30, she served two double faults that allowed Kvitova to serve for the first set.  However Kvitova returned the favor with her own double fault to hand the service break back, and the set headed into a tiebreaker.  The tiebreaker was a see-saw battle, with six different set points in total.  Kirilenko’s final backhand pass attempt went slightly wide, and Kvitova captured the opening set, 11-9 in the tiebreaker.

 

Maria Kirilenko

As the second set got underway, it was a very different contest.  There was a noticeable dip in energy, particularly from Kvitova.  After the match, the Czech noted “I was really down physically. I felt like without energy.”  Kirilenko capitalized on this lull in the action. With Kvitova serving 2-2, 40-40, the Russian swept the next eleven points to grab a 5-2 advantage.  Kirilenko served for the set twice, at 5-2 and again at 5-4, but could not convert.  The momentum had shifted back to Kvitova.  Sweeping the last five games, Kvitova earned her second hard court title of the summer, and positioned herself as a top contender for the U.S. Open.

 

Final: (1) Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond def. (2) Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka, 4-6, 6-0, 10-4

 

After starting the season winning four of their first six events, the American pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond were stuck in a twelve event losing streak, a disappointing statistic for the co-No. 1 ranked doubles players.  They made the last minute decision to join the New Haven Open field after an early round loss in Cincinnati.

 

These two teams last met during that losing streak, on the grass of Wimbledon in the semifinals of the 2012 London Summer Olympics.  The Czech duo of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka won that match in straight sets.  Although they were the lower seeded team in the New Haven final, there was no doubt they were capable of winning the Championship.  A break of serve from the No. 2 seeds allowed them to serve out the opening set 6-4, halfway to the title.

 

It’s sometimes said, “the match was closer than the score indicated,” and that was certainly true in the second set.  While the 6-0 set appeared one-sided, each game reached deuce.  Inspired play from Huber and Raymond saw them win the seventh point in every game.  (With Doubles using no-ad scoring, a seventh point is played at 40-40 to determine the winner of the game.)  The shutout set gave Huber and Raymond the confidence to capture the third set super-tiebreak.  The American team jumped to a quick 5-1 lead, and closed out the match for their first title since March.

 

Around the Grounds – Saturday August 25th:

During Petra Kvitova’s on-court interview after winning the title, she confused several people in the crowd when thanking Tournament Director Anne Worcester for the “vodka”.  She was actually thanking Worcester for the “wild card” entry into the event, but with her Czech accent it sounded differently… Maria Kirilenko’s boyfriend Alex Ovechkin, a left wing for the NHL’s Washington Capitals, appeared in her friend’s box today.  At changeovers during the match, several fans ran over for autographs and pictures, which Ovechkin good-naturedly accommodated… In their post-match press conference, Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber entertained.  Huber expounded on the convenience of renting an apartment during the two weeks of a Grand Slam event, describing herself as a “laundry freak” who was planning to do her own laundry and cooking at her rented New York apartment starting this evening.  And when Raymond was told that her 79 doubles titles placed her ahead of Roger Federer for titles, she exclaimed: “That’s the best stat I’ve heard all day!”

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Wozniacki’s Streak Snapped, Kvitova Serves Her Way to Final

By Jack Cunniff

New Haven Open at Yale– Friday, August 24, 2012

Summary of Friday semifinal action at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven:

 

Semifinal: (7) Maria Kirilenko def. (3) Caroline Wozniacki, 7-5, ret.

 

The Caroline Wozniacki winning streak at the New Haven Open ended Friday, through a combination of Maria Kirilenko and an injury to her right knee.  Wozniacki, who had won 20 consecutive matches in New Haven and was undefeated lifetime in the tournament, was questionable for her semifinal after injuring the knee in yesterday’s quarterfinal against Dominika Cibulkova.  However, early reports indicated she had a successful practice in the morning, and would take the court for match.

 

The first set was high quality tennis, with both women combining for over 20 winners.  They held serve comfortably throughout the set, relying on the placement of their serves rather than power.  The first break points of the match didn’t occur until the eleventh game, with Wozniacki serving at 5-5.  Two down-the-line backhand winners for Kirilenko brought her to double break point at 15-40. Wozniacki fought off both break points, the first with an entertaining net exchange punctuated by an open-court volley winner by Wozniacki.  But a return of serve winner by Kirilenko gave her a third break opportunity, one that she would capitalize on.  Kirilenko held serve easily to win the first set, 7-5.

 

As it turned out, it would be the only set.  Wozniacki called for the trainer on the changeover. After having a brief examination, Wozniacki made the decision to retire from the match.  Following the match, Wozniacki was evasive in answering questions about the diagnosis of the injury, and would only offer that she felt the knee getting worse as play continued.  She hopes that with a few days of rest, she will recover and be ready for the U.S. Open next week.

 

Meanwhile, Kirilenko advances to her eleventh career final, her first on U.S. soil.  Regardless of the result of the final, she will reach a career high No. 12 in the rankings next week.

 

Semifinal: (2) Petra Kvitova def. (4) Sara Errani, 6-1, 6-3

 

Petra Kvitova picked up where she left off Thursday, imposing her daunting serve on an overmatched opponent.  And just as in the quarterfinals, her service statistics looked impeccable: eight aces, no double faults, and no break points.  In total, she lost only nine points in her eight service games.  Kvitova has certainly found her groove on serve.

 

Errani was a game competitor.  She tried to run down the Kvitova groundstrokes, and mix up the pace of the rallies.  She acknowledged afterwards the difficulty of the situation, deciding to attempt more powerful shots while risking errors, or trying to prolong points and let Kvitova make mistakes.  But with the Czech playing as well as she did, it’s not certain either strategy would have worked against her.

 

With Kvitova easily holding serve, she was able to take risks on Errani’s service games, and strike winners on her service returns.  She broke the Italian twice in each set, and easily advanced into her second final of 2012.

 

 

Around the Grounds – Friday August 24th:

Prior to tomorrow’s Singles Final, the Doubles Final will be held featuring the world No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams.  Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, the higher ranked and top-seeded doubles team, will battle the Czech pair of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.  This is a rematch of the 2012 London Olympic semifinal which the Czechs won en route to a silver medal… It was a somber press conference for Caroline Wozniacki, being asked the details of her injury and it’s impact on her U.S. Open prospects, but she did manage a moment of levity.  When asked to look back at her last five years in New Haven and what the tournament has meant to her, Wozniacki laughed: “It sounds like I’m retiring.”… Maria Kirilenko was asked if her boyfriend Alex Ovechkin, left wing for the NHL Washington Capitals, would be in attendance for Saturday’s final, but she was coy in her response: “I don’t know. Can be.”… All three of Petra Kvitova’s New Haven Open matches have been played in the evening session.  When asked about her preference for day of night matches, she admitted that she had asked for night matches.  “In the night, it’s not as hot as during the day. I think tomorrow will be so –so. I hope it will be okay.”

Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

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