Tennis Coverage (196)
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The Final Problem
On Saturday, Simona Halep became the second unseeded player to win in New Haven since the rebirth of the tournament in 1998, and follows in the footsteps of four-time Champion Caroline Wozniacki. Halep followed her straight-sets defeat of Wozniacki on Friday with a drubbing of third seed Petra Kvitova, 6-2, 6-2. Halep will find herself in 19th position in the WTA rankings on Monday and has now won four of her last six matches against players in the world's Top 10.
Kvitova started the match well, but quickly faded, spraying errors on both her forehand and backhand sides, and having no answers for Halep's solid, well-placed shots. Halep made only four unforced errors in the match and reeled off nine straight games after saving breakpoints early on. Down 2-6, 0-4, Kvitova strained to hold and avoid a bagel by concentrating on her serve. Three games later, however, Halep held her hands up in victory as she hit an ace to finish the match.
Thursday's Winningest Winner
The New Haven Open singles quarterfinalist with the most titles in 2013 is... Simona Halep. The Romanian has three tournament wins this season: Nurnberg, 's-Hertogenbosch, and Budapest. Russians Elena Vesnina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have two tournaments each, and No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova has one title this year (Dubai). The other four quarterfinalists, including four-time New Haven Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki, are still chasing their first title of the year.
"Everything you've done in the last few years comes to this," said Darren Cahill to Sorana Cirstea as she was down 0-3 in the second set of Sunday's Final, facing Serena Williams and having surrendered six straight games. At other times this week, the Adidas Player Development coach's words seemed to work magic on Cirstea, but not on Sunday. She would go on to lose three more games to give Williams the match, bowing out, 2-6, 0-6.
It seemed that the inroads Cirstea made with her three Top 10 wins this week (d. Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, and Na Li) were erased, and the Cirstea we have seen struggle in the past several years was back on court. The Romanian now has won a combined seven games in three matches against Williams.
Saturday's Marquee Feature
Saturday afternoon, Serena Williams extended her winning streak in Toronto to ten matches and her head-to-head record over Agnieszka Radwanska to 5-0. But it wasn't easy. In their closest match since the 2012 Wimbledon final,
Williams prevailed, 7-6(3), 6-4.
The match seemed to develop in slow motion with a somewhat lethargic and bothered Williams shaky, particularly on serve. In the middle of the first set, a trainer was called, who gave the American medicine to take. Williams later told the media she has been struggling with a stomach issue, but did not suggest it affected the match in any way.
Despite these issues, Williams stayed with Radwanska. The players traded breaks twice in the set, leading to a tiebreak. Williams prevailed, winning the first set with an ace.