Tennis Coverage (196)
Our reporters and photographers from around the world bring you tennis coverage that you won't find anywhere else.
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.
Friday's Short of a Dozen
Friday's first match, in which Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Sara Errani, featured fifteen breaks of serve, eight for Radwanska and seven for Errani. In fact, there was a streak of eleven straight breaks following the first two games, when both players held serve. Radwanska broke the streak with a hold early in the second and went on to win the match, 7-6(1), 7-5.
Thursday's Body of Work
Agnieszka Radwanska, a straight-sets winner Thursday over Sloane Stephens, commented Thursday on her appearance in ESPN's The Body Issue, reiterating that she posed in order to show the hard work she and other athletes, like fellow featured tennis player John Isner, put in. She noted that those who criticized her participation probably do not understand what the magazine is about.
Wednesday's Paying It Back
China's Li Na is known off-court for her sharp sense of humor, much of which reveals itself when she pokes fun at her husband. So we asked her whether there is ever any payback or retaliation from her husband, Jiang Shan. Li managed to get in a jab at him as she started her reply,
"I mean, he always try to be, like, nice one, you know. I was the worst one. But don't listen what he do, what he say, and don't look what he do. Because, sorry to say that, but sometimes the guy is a little bit faking, you know."
Tuesday's The New New You
Ana Ivanovic, a winner over Taipei's Su-Wei Hsieh in the day's first feature match, said she made changes after Wimbledon (where she lost in the second round to Eugenie Bouchard). She set up a new team and established "a new plan, new goals." Asked to share these goals, Ivanovic pointed to consistency, and not getting down on herself: "Just basically taking it one step at a time, being more in the present moment and also to have in the process because, you know, it's not easy traveling all the time and everything. We get caught up in that kind of machine, and it's very easy to get down on yourself." She is looking to focus on "little things" in each tournament.
Ivanovic's next point of focus will be her second-round match with Flavia Pennetta.
The Final Relaxer
Following his 6-3, 1-6, 2-6, defeat on Sunday, John Isner thanked his family and friends and singled out a person whom he held especially responsible for his winning streak this summer – his chiropractor. “It was strange to hear that,” Isner’s victor, Juan Martin del Potro, said afterwards to the media.
In fact, it would appear the Argentine is not in much need of a chiropractor’s services. “When he is not on court, if he was any more relaxed, he would fall over,” said Isner of del Potro.
Being relaxed was perhaps a pre-requisite for success at the Citi Open. The laid-back Andrea Petkovic also commented on her opponent, Women’s Champion Magdalena Rybarikova being among the most relaxed players on the WTA Tour.
The Final Big (lack of sleep)
Winners of Saturday’s post-rain delay matches, Juan Martin del Potro and Andrea Petkovic got to sleep at 3 am and past 5 am on Sunday, respectively. Petkovic noted that while she was able to recover from the late-night match with Alize Cornet physically, the tiredness negatively affected her emotional state. Still, Petkovic contended she was much happier having played the match at night (it began at approximately 12:35 am), then playing two matches on Sunday, since she is still recovering from knee surgery.
Andrea Petkovic began her post-match interview, following a three-set win over Paula Ormaechea, with a quiet delivery of the United States anthem melody, giving some gravitas to the act of holding a microphone. While her vocal stylings were quite impressive, the media decided this option might not be the best option for Petkovic to try next time she is at a karaoke bar.
Dmitry Tursunov gave a different perspective on citizenship. Tursunov is unable to go to next week's tournament in Montreal because he did not get a chance to get his visa for travel to Canada. He could not give up his passport for a sufficient amount of time because of international travel and thus could not apply for a visa prior to last week. Tursunov was hoping to expedite his visa application through the Canadian Embassy in Washington, but the learned that the embassy no longer processed individual visas. Despite the years-long hassle with visas, Tursunov says he never came close to switching his nationality to the US.