NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - New Haven is quiet, peaceful and calm: the complete opposite of New York City - which is why many WTA players say the Connecticut Open is perfect for their last-minute US Open tune-up.
Set the week before the Slam and staged just 72 miles away at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale, the New Haven tournament uses the same balls as the US Open and features similar conditions to Flushing Meadows - as well as a world-class stadium and tournament team dedicated to making players feel at home.
“There’s probably something in the water, right Anne?” Petra Kvitova joked with Tournament Director Anne Worcester after her second-round win. The Czech has been a regular fixture at the Connecticut Open since 2010, and she’s quickly become one of the winningest players in tournament history, lifting three trophies (2012, 2014-2015) as well reaching the final in 2013 and semifinals in 2016.
“I don’t know what it is about New Haven, but probably it’s because everything here just lets me use my game - the Center Court is just a little bit faster than other courts,” she added.
“New Haven is a pretty quiet place, which I always love. It’s the calm before the storm that’s coming in New York, so it’s a great place to be here. I just feel very comfy here, very relaxed and enjoying the time here. We go shopping here, we were in the restaurants - it’s a fun place to be.”
Kiki Bertens, who was originally seeded No.7 but was forced to withdraw due to fatigue and illness after her Cincinnati title run, prefered to stay in New Haven to compete in the doubles competition rather than head to New York.
“Here, I can still play some matches, have some practice, and not have the busyness of New York City,” Bertens said.
Semifinalist Julia Goerges shared a similar opinion: despite falling to an inspired Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets, the German came away feeling positive about her upcoming US Open campaign.
“I had four great matches, I played a lot of good players, and I think that’s what you want here” Goerges said. “You have the same climate, the same balls - I’m going to New York now and I’m playing on Monday so for me, it was overall a great preparation here towards New York. I can be very pleased with the way I played this week.”
“I think that it’s good to be here this week and away from all the hustle and bustle in New York,” Monica Puig said. The Puerto Rican was on the comeback trail after recovering from hip injury, making a run to the semifinals from qualifying before being forced to retire with an abdominal strain.
Despite the disappointing end to her Connecticut Open campaign, Puig told press that the calmness of New Haven was important in her mental preparations for the upcoming Slam.
“I was thinking about it earlier, and it just feels so much more relaxed here. When you go to a Grand Slam, you’re just kind of overwhelmed with everything, the atmosphere, and you feel more tired at the end of the day,” she said. “I’m just in my element over here instead of getting lost in the concrete jungle.
“Obviously, it’s inevitable - I’m going to have to go there sometime. But as long as I can stay here and continue to do what I’ve been doing so far, it’s a plus.”