The 2009 US Open Series winner made his fifth final appearance of 2009 today
Next up on Yale’s Court L were the No. 2 seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain, and the seventh seed from Russia, Igor Andreev. It was a well played and closely contested match between the veterans, but Verdasco was a little more consistent in the tiebreak. With the Spaniard serving at 5-6 in the second set, Andreev had two break points to extend the match to a third set, but some miscues off the Russian’s forehand sent the match into the second tiebreak. While Verdasco squandered an early mini-break, another forehand error from Andreev ended the match, 7-6(4), 7-6(5). Despite, the loss, Andreev feels good about his week, and is hopeful he can continue that level of play at the US Open.
Women’s Final: (2) C. Wozniacki def. E. Vesnina, 6-2, 6-4
The Pilot Pen finally moved back outdoors for the ladies’ final. With the start delayed almost three hours, both players were ready to get underway, and once again play outdoors. While the rain had finally stopped, conditions were still difficult with winds swirling around the stadium. Defending Champion Caroline Wozniacki had a quick start, and broke Elena Vesnina’s serve in the opening game. Wozniacki lost only six points on serve in the first set, and successfully fought off Vesnina’s only break point by placing a powerful serve to the backhand. The Russian admitted afterwards that, “maybe I was a bit nervous” playing in the biggest final of her career, but was more troubled by the solid serving and defensive play of Wozniacki. The Dane held serve at love to close out the first set, 6-2.
19-year-old Wozniacki was able to successfully defend a title on her first attempt
In the second set, Wozniacki picked up where she left off, and led 2-1 after breaking serve in the third game. Vesnina managed to pull even at 3-3, but immediately lost her serve to fall behind again. With Vesnina serving at 3-5, the sun made its first appearance in two days, but it was not enough to turn things around for the Russian. After Wozniacki once again held with ease, she became the first player since Venus Williams (2001-02) to claim back-to-back Pilot Pen titles.
Men’s Final: (2) F. Verdasco def. (6) S. Querrey, 6-4, 7-6 (6)
Both Fernando Verdasco and Sam Querrey were pulling double duty today, having won their semifinals earlier in the day. In just a matter of days, the players went from playing in a hot, sunny environment outdoors, to neutral indoor conditions, and finally to cool and breezy weather in the final.
All week, Querrey has had the good fortune of getting an early break in his matches, but as he noted after the final, it flipped on him tonight. In fact, Verdasco was able to score two quick breaks off the huge Querrey serve to lead 4-1. While Querrey was able to recover one of those breaks, Verdasco kept his nose in front to claim the first set, 6-4.
New Haven marks Verdasco's third career singles title
Between closing out the first set with a love hold, then earning a love break and another love hold to start the second set, Verdasco won twelve straight points for a winning lead. The game of the match came soon after, with Querrey serving down 2-4 in the second. In a twenty-six point game that went to deuce ten times, Querrey battled through a flurry of forehand errors and two break point chances, to finally hold serve and shift momentum in his favor. Verdasco lost his serve in the next game, and it was a new match at 4-4 in the second. While Querrey failed to convert two set points on the Spaniard’s serve at 5-6, he found himself with three more set points, leading the tiebreak, 6-3. But the momentum that had swung Querrey’s way in the marathon seventh game suddenly shifted back to Verdsaco. The American dumped a forehand volley in the net, and had a costly double fault. The Spaniard swept the final five points of the match, and his first title of the year.
Around the grounds
It’s a good thing Schick razors are a sponsor: Vesnina announced that her coach, Andrei Chesnokov, had shaved his head as part of a promise to her if she made the finals. To the delight of the crowd, Chesnokov, a former Top 10 player on the ATP Tour, came out and showed his newly bare scalp… The female Verdasco? Wozniacki shared a little about her experience with the Yale football team yesterday. “I met all 105 guys. I mean, that was great. Being the only girl, and 105 guys, that wasn’t bad. That could happen a little bit more often (smiling).” Good luck charm: One difference for Caroline this week was that her mother Anna joined her in New Haven; she’ll be with Caroline in New York for the US Open, as well… The rich get richer: After he won the title match, South African Airways, an ATP World Tour sponsor, presented Verdasco with two round-trip tickets to any South African destination... A rare double: Verdasco noted that this isn’t the first time he’s played on two different surfaces in the same event; at the Wimbledon warm-up event in Nottingham in 2008, Verdasco played on grass through the semifinals, and then the finals indoors, losing to Ivo Karlovic… Sam’s Swift moves: Querrey traveled to Mohegan Sun in nearby Uncasville, CT on Friday night to catch the Taylor Swift concert, then drove back to New Haven in the rain to play two matches today… And in other music news: The Stadium Court announcer selected appropriate music once both Singles Champions claimed their titles – Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” for Wozniacki, and ABBA’s “Fernando” for Verdasco… Ladies and Gentlemen, your Elena Vesnina quote of the day: commenting on her play in the final, “it was a few very sad mistakes.”
Andrei Chesnokov (right of Wozniacki) made good on his bet with pupil Vesnina
Thanks to TalkAboutTennis.com readers for following our match updates and behind the scenes reports from this year’s event!
More photos from the 2009 Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament.
Photos: Jack Cunniff, Mariya Konovalova