Coming to New Haven this year, Petra Kvitova was already a two-time U.S. Open singles champion. And now, she is a two-time Connecticut Open champion as well. The No. 4-ranked women’s player in the world systematically took down No. 68 Magdalena Rybarikova, before 3,285 fans at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven.
Overall, attendance for the tournament was up more than 1,300 over last year.
The match could be seen as a Civil War or sorts, with Kvitova representing the Czech Republic, and Rybarikova calling Slovakia “home.”
Neither player seemed overly stoked to win the title in the first set. Rybarikova broke Kvitova twice, but the Czech breaking back three times en route to a 6-4 victory. Serving at 2-5, the Slovak broke Kvitova, then rallied to close the margin to 4-5 before Kvitova broke back, eventually winning the set and taking a 1-0 lead. Kvitova put the pedal to the metal in the second set, winning 6-2 and ending the match in just over an hour (69 minutes).
Kvitova’s record in New Haven improved to 12-2, and she will carry her No. 4 ranking into the U.S. Open, which begins play on Monday. She cruised through this week without dropping a set.
Rybarikova, the lowest-ranked finalist in the history of the event, should crack the Top 50 when the new WTA rankings are announced on Monday. She has been as high as No. 31.
This was Kvitova’s third straight appearance in the Finals here. After winning in 2012, she reached the finals last year where she bowed to Simona Halep. This week, she was as dominant as any player ever has been in this tournament, not dropping a set while tuning up for the U.S. Open. While she admitted to needing some work in order to tune up for the Open, Kvitova admitted that success here doesn’t necessarily translate into success in Queens.
Kvitova also won here in 2012 before losing in last year's final to Simona Halep. She did not drop a set in New Haven this week as she prepared for next week's U.S. Open.
"That's something what I need probably, have some matches before (the Open)," said the No. 4 player in the world. "I know last two years I had great run here, but I didn't have great results in U.S. Open. Still, I mean, I hopefully can make it little bit better [this year]."
Rybarikova admitted to feeling a little tightness in her right thigh, which she injured Friday sliding for a ball in her semifinal match against Camila Giorgi of Italy on Friday. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to play today. She grabbed the back of her thigh several times today, but never called time out for a trainer.
"In the beginning, it was OK, but then it started to be worse and worse," said Rybarikova, who fell to 1-10 vs. Top-5 opponents. "It's tough to play like this against such a great player. But I don't want to say I lost because of that."
Her lone win against a Top-5 opponent came earlier this week against No. 2-ranked Halep.
Tournament Director Anne Worcester was delighted to announce the increase in attendance—some of which, no doubt, was due to the addition of two “Legends” matches—men’s play featuring older players no longer on the Tour. This year, Fairfield native James Blake played exhibition matches with two former U.S. Open winners—Jim Courier and Andy Roddik.
"We hope we're reversing the trend and we can grow it back year by year," said Worcester. "There's kind of a new energy here. Everybody's happy to see the tournament's still here, thanks to the state of Connecticut and Gov. [Dannel P.] Malloy."
Still, it was hard to ignore the empty seats. A few years ago, the seats in the upper bowl stopped being sold in an effort to get people closer to the action. But Saturday’s attendance, 3, 285, was the smallest crowd for a final dating back to 1990, the first year women played in the tournament.
"If Caroline [Wozniacki] and Simona [Halep] and Genie Bouchard got through to the semifinals, our numbers would be bigger," continued Worcester. "I think we would have eclipsed 50 [thousand] if our seeds got through to the semifinals."
With the win, Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champ, becomes the third player to win multiple titles in New Haven, joining four-time victors Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki.
Kvitova was broken twice in the first set, but returned the favor against the Slovak three times to edge Rybarikova, 5-4, in the first. Rybarikova managed to keep the set respectable, closing in at 5-4 after saving two set points at 2-5 down and breaking Kvitova. But Kvitova was able to break the Slovak back for the set, winning it 6-4.
In the second set Kvitova put the pedal to the medal and cruised to a 6-2 victory, closing out the match in 69 minutes. Kvitova’s record in New Haven improves to 12-2 overall. She secures her No. 4 world ranking moving into the US Open, where she has an outside shot at claiming the world’s No. 1 ranking should she win the event (pending other players’ results, as well).
Rybarikova was the lowest-ranked finalist in New Haven history, at No. 68. Her march to the finals in New Haven gives her an excellent chance of breaking into the Top-50 on Monday.
With the win, Kvitova becomes only the third player in history to win multiple titles in New Haven, joining Venus Williams and Coroline Wozniacki, who have each won four New Haven single titles.
Earlier, Andreja Klepac and Silvia Soler-Espinosa, playing together for just the second time, defeated Marina Erakovic and Arantxa Parra-Santonja 7-5, 4-6, 10-7 to claim the doubles championship. Klepac and Soler-Espinosa made their debut as a doubles team last week in Cincinnati.