Caroline Wozniacki, Queen Of New Haven
Published August 27, 2011 12:00
NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Either it was her finding her groove again or her opponent running out of steam, or a combination of the two - but in the end it didn't matter, as Caroline Wozniacki broke away from 4-all in the first set and cruised past Petra Cetkovska to claim her fourth straight title in New Haven.
Having lost opening matches in Toronto and Cincinnati, Wozniacki, the No.1 player in the world, came to New Haven in search of match play, and it was a welcome return too - she had won here the last three years in a row and has always had a very special rapport with the public. Seeded No.1, she made it into her fourth straight final at the Premier-level event without losing a set.
Meanwhile, the bottom half of the draw was being turned upside down. Having completely dominated her three qualifying rounds and subsequently her first round match against Ayumi Morita, 26-year-old Czech Cetkovska began her assault on seeded players, first No.5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round then No.4 seed Marion Bartoli in the quarterfinals, and in Friday's semifinals saving match point to beat No.2 seed Li Na, 62 57 76(9).
Cetkovska's dream week now saw her reaching her first career WTA final.
"If somebody told me that before this tournament, I don't think I would believe it," she jubilated. "But I'm still not done. There's one more match to play."
In Saturday's final, Cetkovska seemed to pick up right where she had left off against Li, going up a break twice early in the first set - but Wozniacki broke back both times, and from 4-all she was just too solid for an increasingly error-prone Cetkovska, winning eight of the next nine games for a 64 61 victory. She closed fast too - she won 11 of the last 12 points of the match.
"It was important for me to start well in the second set," Wozniacki said. "I just wanted to get a bit of a lead. Then I kept my focus and didn't let her back in."
Wozniacki is the first player in nine years to win the same WTA title four years running, the last player to do so being Venus Williams at this same event from 1999 to 2002. Wozniacki is now 17-0 lifetime at the New Haven Open at Yale.
"It's a great tournament for me. I love being back here, I said it before. I still can't really believe I've been here four times already," Wozniacki said. "I definitely feel like I'm hitting the ball well. I'm on a good roll. I'm looking forward to the Open.
"Venus is a great champion. And Navratilova has done this before, and Steffi Graf, from what I've heard. To be in that company is an amazing feeling. I haven't texted Venus yet. I'm sure I'll get a pep talk from her at the US Open."
The 21-year-old Dane is also the 21st player in WTA history to cross $10 million in career prize money. Serena Williams is the leader with $33,372,829.
Cetkovska, who was already at a career-high No.40 this past week, is projected to move into the Top 35 now. "I'm really happy to be here, to have gone so far in the tournament. Obviously I wanted to win, to do even better - but today it was just a little bit too much. Caroline is playing great - but I had a great week."
Earlier, No.3 seeds Chuang Chia-Jung and Olga Govortsova won the doubles title with a 75 62 win over Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. It was their first title together; Chuang now has 17 WTA doubles titles, Govortsova seven.
"I had my birthday here this week too so I guess it's a good present for me," said Govortsova, who turned 23 on Tuesday. "It seems CJ and I only play well at the end of the season, maybe we should just start at this time every year!"
"It has been a very good week and I hope we can continue this form at the US Open," said the 26-year-old Chuang, of Chinese Taipei.