By Jack Cunniff
New Haven Open at Yale– Thursday, August 23, 2012
Summary of Thursday quarterfinal action at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven:
Quarterfinal: (3) Caroline Wozniacki def. (6) Dominika Cibulkova, 6-2, 6-1
In the day’s opening quarterfinal, the four-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki renewed her rivalry with Dominika Cibulkova. With their recent history, one would have expected a closely fought contest, but it was not to be. After Cibulkova held to open the match, Wozniacki swept the next five games to gain quick control of the match. Wozniacki was riding a nineteen match New Haven winning streak entering this match and her confidence was evident, striking deep groundstrokes, forcing errors from her opponent, and hitting winners off her backhand wing. Cibulkova managed one more game before Wozniacki won the opening set, 6-2.
The drama started early in the second set. During the third point of the first game, with Cibulkova serving, Wozniacki felt a sharp pain in her right knee and stopped play after the point to call the trainer. Wozniacki had her knee taped, and resumed play, but the interruption seemed to bother Cibulkova more than Wozniacki. Cibulkova admitted afterward that her concentration had been broken, and she was distracted by Wozniacki playing on her injured knee. Whlie Wozniacki’s movement was hindered, her ball striking continued to be superior. That was enough for her to cruise through to the semifinals 6-2, 6-1, but questions remain around the Dane’s conditioning for Friday’s semifinals.
Quarterfinal: (2) Petra Kvitova def. (8) Lucie Safarova, 6-3, 6-3
An intriguing match-up highlighted the evening schedule in New Haven. It was a first-ever meeting between two left-handers from the Czech Republic, both ranked in the world’s Top Twenty, who also happen to be good friends off-court. In simplest terms, the difference between these players was the serve. Safarova arrived at break point in the third game of the match, and while she was fortunate to convert it, it was the only break point opportunity she would have tonight. Kvitova dominated on serve, blasting 10 aces against no double faults. In fact, Safarova managed only 13 points in Kvitova’s nine service games. While Safarova served a respectable five aces, it was offset by six double faults.
Safarova took an early break lead in the match, and held a 40-0 advantage while serving at 2-1. However, Kvitova ultimately broke back in that game after four deuces, and a pattern had emerged. The Kvitova service games were quick and easy; in contrast, Safarova had to battle through her games. Typical of Kvitova’s playing style, she played some casual errors on her groundstrokes, but she was more consistent than Safarova who struggled with the power of her opponent. Kvitova prevailed comfortably, 6-3, 6-3, to reach her seventh semifinal of 2012.
In addition to winning the match, Kvitova clinched the Emirates Airlines U.S. Open Series title, qualifying her to win up to an additional $1,000,000 in prize money at the U.S. Open.
Around the Grounds – Thursday August 23rd:
Lost in the commotion of Caroline Wozniacki’s knee injury was the fact that she played a very clean match today. In the second set of her match against Dominika Cibulkova, Wozniacki lost only three points on serve. .. Maria Kirilenko of Russia reached the semifinals of the New Haven Open for the second time in her career by defeating Olga Govortsova of Belarus, 6-1, 6-2. Kirilenko, who also reached the semifinals in 2009, has played in New Haven in eight of the last nine years, and is ranked a career high No. 14. Kirilenko, the No. 7 seed, will play Wozniacki in the semifinals… Sara Errani of Italy won in the late quarterfinal over France’s Marion Bartoli. The No. 4 seed Errani jumped to a quick 4-0 lead in both the first and second sets, but had to withstand Bartoli’s comeback attempts in both sets before advancing 6-4, 6-2. Errani meets Petra Kvitova in Friday’s semifinals… Last year’s New Haven Open finalist, Petra Cetkovska who was forced to withdraw from this year’s event, also withdrew from the U.S. Open on Thursday. She was slated to be the 28th seed in Flushing Meadow, but since she has been unable to defend her New haven Open finalist points from last year, she will likely drop to No. 49.
Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.