By Jack Cunniff
New Haven Open at Yaleâ€“ 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.Â 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 yesterdayâ€™s quarterfinal against Dominika Cibulkova.Â 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.Â They held serve comfortably throughout the set, relying on the placement of their serves rather than power.Â The first break points of the match didnâ€™t occur until the eleventh game, with Wozniacki serving at 5-5.Â 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.Â But a return of serve winner by Kirilenko gave her a third break opportunity, one that she would capitalize on. Â Kirilenko held serve easily to win the first set, 7-5.
As it turned out, it would be the only set.Â Wozniacki called for the trainer on the changeover. After having a brief examination, Wozniacki made the decision to retire from the match.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â And just as in the quarterfinals, her service statistics looked impeccable: eight aces, no double faults, and no break points.Â In total, she lost only nine points in her eight service games.Â Kvitova has certainly found her groove on serve.
Errani was a game competitor.Â She tried to run down the Kvitova groundstrokes, and mix up the pace of the rallies.Â 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.Â But with the Czech playing as well as she did, itâ€™s not certain either strategy would have worked against her.
With Kvitova easily holding serve, she was able to take risks on Erraniâ€™s service games, and strike winners on her service returns.Â She broke the Italian twice in each set, and easily advanced into her second final of 2012.
Around the Grounds â€“ Friday August 24th:
Prior to tomorrowâ€™s Singles Final, the Doubles Final will be held featuring the world No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams. Â 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.Â This is a rematch of the 2012 London Olympic semifinal which the Czechs won en route to a silver medalâ€¦ It was a somber press conference for Caroline Wozniacki, being asked the details of her injury and itâ€™s impact on her U.S. Open prospects, but she did manage a moment of levity. Â When asked to look back at her last five years in New Haven and what the tournament has meant to her, Wozniacki laughed: â€œIt sounds like Iâ€™m retiring.â€â€¦ Maria Kirilenko was asked if her boyfriend Alex Ovechkin, left wing for the NHL Washington Capitals, would be in attendance for Saturdayâ€™s final, but she was coy in her response: â€œI donâ€™t know. Can be.â€â€¦ All three of Petra Kvitovaâ€™s New Haven Open matches have been played in the evening session.Â When asked about her preference for day of night matches, she admitted that she had asked for night matches.Â â€œIn the night, itâ€™s not as hot as during the day. I think tomorrow will be so â€“so. I hope it will be okay.â€