2015 Connecticut Open Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
It is the last stop before the US Open and a chance to play your way in to form before the final grand slam of the year.
The Connecticut Open was incepted in 1988. Originally held in various cities, it found its home in Connecticut in 1998 where it has become a feature event as the last tournament before the US Open series.
Previous champions include Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles, Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams. Petra Kvitova won the title last year.
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Prize Money: $689,063
Date: August 23rd- 29th 2015
Top Eight seeded players (Ranking):
1. Simona Halep (3) – BYE
2. Petra Kvitova (4) – BYE
3. Caroline Wozniacki (5)
4. Lucie Safarova (6)
5. Karolina Pliskova (7)
6. Timea Bacsinszky (14)
7. Agnieszka Radwanska (15)
8. Sara Errani (16)
The last direct acceptance was Daria Gavrilova (39), so a strong field in New Haven.
First round matches to watch:
(4) Lucie Safarova vs Daria Gavrilova:
In a rematch of their Toronto second round clash, Safarova will look to extract the perfect revenge when she faces young-gun Gavrilova in the opening round of New Haven.
The Czech suffered a shock defeat to the 21 year old in the Rogers Cup 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in their first meeting two weeks ago. Gavrilova would go on to lose the following round to Roberta Vinci. Safarova headed to Cincinnati where she made the quarter finals, losing to Elina Svitolina. The French Open finalist has not been able to show her best tennis since that breakthrough result, and will be hoping that New Haven will work as a form builder for the US Open.
As the last direct acceptance, Gavrilova will be one of the lower ranked players in the main draw but that does not make her any less dangerous. She has upset Safarova and Errani over the past few weeks and the Russian’s ranking is continuing to rise. Can the 21 year old pull out another surprise win against the fourth seed?
Madison Keys vs Elina Svitolina:
Both are unseeded, but these two youngsters should provide an interesting clash in the opening round of the Connecticut open. We could be seeing more of this one in the future.
Svitolina is coming off the back of an impressive run in Cincinnati, making the semi finals before losing to Serena Williams. The Ukrainian continued to impress as she continues her rise towards the top ten.
Keys has not been in the best of form recently, losing early in Stanford and Cincinnati. The big hitting American’s game has still yet to be fully developed however, which is a scary prospect given hr natural power. The 20 year old will be hoping to lay the foundations for a big run in her home grand slam.
This is the first meeting between the two 20 year olds. They both go about the game differently with Svitolina the more consistent hitter, and Keys being the power baseliner. Which style will come through with the win?
(7) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Coco Vandeweghe:
7th seed and wildcard Radwanska will not like her draw as she faces dangerous floater Vandeweghe in an upset potential round one meeting.
Radwanska will be disappointed that A: She failed to defend her Rogers Cup title, and B: That she lost early the following week to Anna Schmiedlova. No wonder she took a wildcard to New Haven. The Pole is seeking the form that saw her make the Wimbledon semi-finals earlier in the year ahead of the US Open.
Vandeweghe will be hoping to spring a surprise and follow Schmiedlova’s footsteps in beating the seventh seed. The big serving American has also struggled with form since Wimbledon, but she can catch fire at any time.
The head to head reads 1-0 in favour of Radwanska, who defeated Vandeweghe in Beijing last year. It will be another clash in styles with the variety and counterpunching of the Pole against the big hitting of the American. Look out for a potential upset here.
It is a bit of a shock that Halep decided to play here after an exhausting couple of weeks in Toronto and Cincinnati. One wonders whether she will withdraw or have enough in the tank to seriously compete. The top seed will receive a first round BYE and will face the winner of Camila Giorgi vs Barbora Strycova, both of whom will provide different tests for the Romanian. Will it be the craft of the Czech or the power of the Italian that awaits her?
Fifth seeded Pliskova will be happy with her draw. The Czech has been drawn qualifiers for her first two rounds, with a potentially depleted Halep or two lower ranked players in the quarter finals. The 22 year old has excelled outside of slams this year, but her performances in the big events have left a lot to be desired. Can she build up enough form in time for the US Open?
That is precisely what Safarova is trying to do. The fourth seed has been dealt with a tough draw, facing Gavrilova for the second time in three weeks. Can the Czech get her payback on the Russian? The winner will face either Zarina Diyas or Irina Begu in the second round. Both are consistent so there will be no room for poor performances.
Errani had a great week in Toronto, but unfortunately Cincinnati did not go to plan for the Italian. Yet again the eighth seed has been drawn a tough round one, this time against talented Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic. Dominika Cibulkova will await the winner in round two, both of whom are highly dangerous in their own right. A wide open section here.
Wozniacki is another big name to take a wildcard into the event as she, like the others, looks to build form and confidence. The Dane is defending finals points in New York, so there is even more at stake. She will face Alison Riske in a round one that could cause problems, though Wozniacki will be expecting herself to pull through.
Eugenie Bouchard’s summer revival has not gone to plans yet and she struggles to put together victories. The Canadian faces a qualifier in round one, so maybe she can find a bit of form.
Bacsinszky’s comeback season has somewhat stagnated in recent events, though she still has time to find her form from earlier in the season. A person who knows all about that is Caroline Garcia, who will meet the Swiss for their rubber match of 2015. Bacsinszky beat the young Frenchwoman in back to back finals earlier in the year. Flavia Pennetta will likely await the winner in the second round. The Italian has drawn a qualifier which given the field is a bit of a lottery. Will Pennetta get lucky with the draw?
Kvitova is here to defend her title, but one must wonder with the recent news about her illness if she is 100% ready to compete. The Czech is coming in off back to back losses to Victoria Azarenka and Garcia so form suggests she could be there for the taking. That is good news for Svitolina or Keys as they will meet the second seed in round two. The Ukrainian in particular is in excellent form and could have another deep run here.
Radwanska will be looking to find her form in the build up to the US Open. She can consider herself amongst the title favourites here, though Vandeweghe will be looking to disprove that in round one. Alize Cornet or a qualifier will await the winner, so despite the Pole being the favourite, she could be upset.
Pliskova def. Halep
Safarova def. Mladenovic
Wozniacki def. Bacsinszky
Radwanska def. Svitolina
Pliskova def. Safarova
Wozniacki def. Radwanska
Wozniacki def. Pliskova
This is a happy hunting ground for Wozniacki, and I believe she will add another New Haven title to her collection.