NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Carla Suárez Navarro of Spain took her spot in the second round of the Connecticut Open on Tuesday, after Slovakian qualifier Jana Cepelova retired from the match due to a right thigh injury, with a final score of 6-4, 4-0, ret.
The only previous meeting between the two took place earlier this year, where Suárez Navarro dispatched Cepelova in the first round of the Australian Open, 6-2, 6-2. The Spaniard would come out the victor again, although this time Cepelova had to abandon the match after one hour and eight minutes.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances, it was an important step forward for Suárez Navarro, who has seen her ranking dip from No.12 to No.35 this year, as she has also struggled with injury.
"I start the season with a shoulder injury, so it’s tough for me," stated Suárez Navarro in an on-court interview after the match. "Women’s tennis now is really good, everyone is playing really good, and you have to be good every time."
The match was competitive early, as both players used a litany of shots to try to get the better of their opponent. Suárez Navarro jumped ahead early by breaking Cepelova for 2-0 with a down-the-line forehand winner, but Cepelova hit strong returns to immediately break back.
Cepelova started to overhit on her groundstrokes late in the set, and gave what seemed like a crucial break to Suárez Navarro after losing a long game at 4-3. But Cepelova broke back, after successfully challenging an ace on break point, which led to the Spaniard hitting the only double fault of the match.
But Suárez Navarro broke again, this time at love, when more of Cepelova's balls could not find the court. 18 unforced errors by Cepelova in the set severely negated her nine winners, and the Slovakian found herself down a set.
As the second set started in the New Haven heat, it became evident that Cepelova was struggling to keep up with Suárez Navarro's combination of guile, footspeed, and powerful forehand.
Suárez Navarro hit a crushing forehand to clinch the first break of the set, and after she held for 3-0 with another forehand winner, Cepelova called for the trainer, who tended to her right thigh.
With thick strapping around her leg, Cepelova gave a brave effort in the next game. But after yet another forehand winner by the Spanish player gave her the double-break advantage, the injury became too troublesome, and Cepelova retired.
Cepelova only picked up two more unforced errors in the truncated second set, but Suárez Navarro tacked on eight winners in those four games, especially off the forehand side.
The Spanish former World No.6 completes the round of 16 line-up at the Connecticut Open. There, she will face No.6 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.
Suárez Navarro has won only one of her previous seven meetings against Pavlyuchenkova, and commented on their next match in the on-court interview. "I know that she plays really aggressive, she returns really good, so I have to be focused on myself and fight for every ball."