NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Sept. 19, 2018) – A maiden WTA title winner in Aryna Sabalenka, four of the top 10 players in the world, a spectacular launch at Yale’s Sterling Library and a week-long festival of events and charity initiatives combined to help the 2018 Connecticut Open become the third-best attended WTA-only event in the world this year.
One of the strongest player fields in recent history, plus an Invesco Series QQQ Men’s Legends event featuring John McEnroe and won by Connecticut’s own James Blake and the return to New Haven of former World No.1 and Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, added up to attendance topping 50,000 for the fourth consecutive year.
“This summer’s tournament created a buzz that we haven’t felt around the site in a number of years,” said Tournament Director Anne Worcester. “We witnessed the birth of a new star for women’s tennis in Sabalenka and we were treated to matches worthy of the latter stages of a Grand Slam right from our first round. We expanded the off-court festival experience, this year with the help of new and returning sponsors staging more fan-friendly activities such as the Avangrid Power Zone which included selfies with players, the Yale Street Fair and our inaugural Beer Fest at the Connecticut Open on finals Saturday.”
While the tournament demonstrated growth with the addition of new sponsors, most notably in Avangrid and Hearst CT Media Group, Worcester confirmed it had once again fulfilled its non-profit mission by giving back to the communities it serves. “Many of our fans, sponsors and partners share our vision and commitment to benefitting the local community,” Worcester added. “We our delighted to confirm that we set several records this year in terms of our fundraising efforts.”
Coming off a successful 2018 event, and in order to build on more than two decades of success, the tournament will spend the next few months evaluating options on how to build for the future, delivering the best value to the community, fans and sponsors, with future developments including a potential summer date change.
Another Case of the Mondays for @Simona_Halep as @KanepiKaia Sends World #1 Home Early From @USOpen
Steve Fogleman from New York
I hate Mondays. But not as much as Simona Halep hates Mondays in New York. On Monday, August 28, 2017 she was sent packing from the US Open after an opening-round loss to Maria Sharapova. Today, on Monday, August 27, 2018, the now-World #1 got an even bigger shocker, being dominated by world #44 Kaia Kanepi, a player who had to qualify for this main draw just a year ago. Halep became infamous today as the first top female player in the world to lose a first round match at the US Open.
The Estonian came out early and dominated Halep in every statistic, breaking the favorite five times en route to the victory. After she was down two breaks and a set, it was clear that Simona was trying to surge, but Kanepi kept playing aggressively and pusing Halep behind the baseline. The crowd was in Halep’s favor all the way down to 4-4 all in the second set, but when Kanepi broke her to set up the final game of the match, she got a standing ovation from the crowd. Kanepi becomes the first player, man or woman, to win a match on the newly-constructed Louis Armstrong Stadium.
“I love playing here in New York,” she said after the match. “I have always loved it. So maybe the court also suits my game.” She wasn’t thrilled about the fact that the fans seemed to be cheering for Halep until the end ” Yeah, I was thinking about that, why they cheer for the underdog. Now they cheer for her. It was a bit annoying for some time, but I got over it.”
Kanepi can advance to the third round on Wednesday when she faces qualifier Jil Teichmann.
Super @SabalenkaA Vanquishes Suarez Navarro, is Queen of @ConnecticutOpen With Maiden Tour Title
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Aryna Sabalenka’s amazing summer reached a new pinnacle today as she won her first WTA Tour title at the Connecticut Open, beating Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-1, 6-4. In an hour and thirteen minutes, Sabalenka overwhelmed the Spaniard in the first set and generally cruised to victory.
“This week, a star has been born in New Haven,” said Connecticut Open Tournament Director.
That star, who had scored several big wins in the last three weeks, made her run to the title by beating Sam Stosur in straights, following that win up with a tight three setter against Daria Gavrilova, a routine win against Belinda Bencic and the straight set victory over Julia Goerges in the semifinals. She is now 10-2 in her last twelve matches and will officially become a top-20 player on Monday at #20.
In her second tour final, Sabalenka said she “was nervous a little bit, on the second set even more. 40-15 and serving for the match, I was too much nervous. too much things coming in my mind.”
She answered a question from ESPN2 about being a tiger and yet, not being asked about her large tiger tattoo on her left forearm. Sabalenka told The Deuce, “I feel that I am gonna fight no matter what, and this I think is like a tiger, you know?”
There’s no time for celebrating: Sabalenka plays American Danielle Collins on Tuesday in a first-round match at the US Open in New York. Talk about cool and calm. Honey Badger don’t care.
“First of all, I have to learn to play two sets if I can,” she said with a smile, “to save my energy, and now I feel pretty fine. I am ready for the US Open. I feel like I have energy for it, my mind is clear. I don’t care, actually. Last time, I was scared, like I had no energy to do what I have to do and this time I feel like I have it and I can do it.”
Special thanks to the Connecticut Open and to Michael Renz on the camera for a great tournament.
Giant Slayer @SabalenkaA Into @ConnecticutOpen Semis, Faces @JuliaGoerges Tomorrow
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
After yesterday’s long matches at the Connecticut Open in New Haven, things flew along at a brisker pace today. Julia Goerges became the first player to advance to the tournament’s semifinals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kate Makarova.
Goerges will be a favorite but the five seed will have her hands full tomorrow with giant-killer Aryna Sabalenka on the other side of the net. Sabalenka, who has notched wins against Gavrilova and Sam Stosur this week, was unstoppable against lucky loser Belinda Bencic by a count of 6-3, 6-2.
The other two semifinalists will be decided in a matter of hours but I expect the field to be Georges, Garcia, Kvitova and the Giant Killer herself. Be very afraid, y’all.
Americans D. Young, DiLorenzo Headed For @USOpen Qualifying Finals
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Nothing ever comes seems to come easy to Donald Young and today was no exception. Today at US Open qualifying in New York, he sleep-walked through the first set against Simone Bolelli and was bageled in front of a roaring American crowd. Yet, as the Donald does, he persevered in three to fight another day, 0-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“I don’t know I did it,” he told me after the match and in between being hounded for autographs and selfies. “I kept fighting and got the W somehow. I don’t know, really. I’m happy to just be moving on.”
He appreciated the fan support from Court 11, the same court where American Ernesto Escobedo won a tough three-setter yesterday afternoon.
“It’s great,” he said. “US Open, the crowd is always good here. It’s always special to be here and play well.”
Young needs to beat Canadian Peter Polansky on Friday to advance.
Another American into the final round of qualifying before lunch was over was Francesca DiLorenzo in a straight sets win against Germany’s Antonia Lottner, 6-4, 7-5. Lottner has qualified before here in New York, but DiLorenzo shut the door on her today in a close one.
“I think there was a little bit of nerves for both sides in the beginning,” DiLorenzo said. “Neither of us were really able to break each other. But once I got into the match a bit and got more comfortable, I started getting in the zone and being a little more aggressive. So it was good.”
The US Open experience is special to her, too.
“I mean, it’s the US Open and it’s New York,” she said. “It’s incredible. I always love playing here. You get all the US fans supporting you on big courts. It’s just amazing. There’s no other place like it.”
DiLo plays former world top 10 Mona Barthel tomorrow for a main draw berth.
The first matches on Armstrong didn’t go particularly well for American players today. Sebastian Korda made history by winning the first game on the newly-constructed stadium, but dropped both sets making Facundo Bagnis the first winner there ever. He did it by a count of 6-4, 6-4. American Kristie Ahn was knocked off the court and out of qualifying in 45 minutes by Ons Jabeur by a score of 6-2, 6-2. Evan King took the first set from Stefano Travaglia on Armstrong this afternoon before Travaglia ‘prevaglied’ by a score of 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. That leaves Ernesto Escobedo as the last American of the day to say he won on New Armstrong the first day.
Tomorrow is Media Day at the US Open and this year, for the first time ever, it’s open to the public in Armstrong. Some in the pressroom are not excited about it, some because it gives them less exclusive access, and others because they think it will turn into a cheapened “Super Bowl” media experience. For the fans, it sounds like a welcome improvement and I look forward to it becoming a tradition at the US Open.
Kontaveit Beats Lucky Loser @ConnecticutOpen, Lucky Loser @BelindaBencic Seizes Opportunity
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
It was a light day session on tap at the Connecticut Open. Johanna Konta withdrew from the tournament and Carlo Suarez Navarro entered the round of 16.
Once the matches began, Annet Kontaveit got off to a slow start in New Haven this morning. Her opponent was replaced an hour before the match as Kiki Bertens pulled out with a ‘viral illness’-veiled injury that likely signals exhaustion on the part of the Western & Southern champion. Pauline Parmentier was lucky losered-in to face Kontaveit and the young Estonian promptly dropped the first set, 6-3. She came back from 2-2 in the second set to win four straight games for 6-2 and took that momentum into the third set for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory to become the last woman to enter the round of 16 at the Connecticut Open. It was the fifth time this year that Kontaveit has come back from a set down to win and her reward is a match with Monica Puig in the round of 16 tomorrow.
They say everyone deserves a second chance and Belinda Bencic made the most of her opportunity to stand in as a lucky loser for Simona Halep, which conveniently came with a first round bye. In an error-filled first set by both players, it was ironic that Bencic had no trouble serving it out for 6-4. Bencic got the early break in the second set and almost never looked back. She’ll play the Wednesday winner of Sabalenka vs. Gavrilova.