Caroline Wozniacki fought through some sluggish play and a visit by Mother Nature—two actually—and earned her first victory in New Haven since withdrawing in last year's semifinals when she defeated Shuai Peng of China 2-6, 3-1(ret.) before the second straight lean audience at The New Haven Open being held at The Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale through Saturday.
Peng, who has a history of heart trouble including heart surgery at age 12, won the first set handily. After both players held in their first service games, Peng went on a roll, winning four straight games with a steady serve-and-volley game, before Princess Caroline stopped the hemorrhaging, holding serve in game seven. Peng stepped up on her next serve, taking the first set in a surprisingly easy 6-2 fashion.
"She was hitting well from both sides like always, keeping rallies very short," said Wozniacki, a 2-6, 3-1 (ret.) after the match. "I didn't even see her call the [trainer] until she ran on the court. It's obviously tough when you fly in and play."
Wozniacki was referring to the fact that Peng had just arrived in Connecticut Monday morning after winning the doubles title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Sunday.
In the second set, the petite 27-year-old Chinese star's game fell off the cliff. She dropped the first three games, then received medical attention at the first changeover. After getting the green light to continue, Peng, who won this year's Wimbledon double's crown with Chinese teammate Hsieh Su-Wei, held serve in game four, but threw in the towel at that point, heading to the net to shake Wozniacki's hand and retire.
With the win, Wozniacki improves to 22-1 in New Haven, her sole loss coming in last year's ill-fated semifinals. She will face Karin Knapp of Italy on Wednesday.
“I feel great,” said Wozniacki, currently ranked No. 10 in the world, after escaping with a “W.” The Danish beauty absolutely loves this stop on the Tour—which originally put her on the professional tennis map. “It’s a great tournament for me. It’s my sixth time here. Time just flies by here. It’s crazy.”
Monday's rain, which caused a two-hour delay in starting the Wozniacki-Peng encounter, forced the postponement of defending champion Petra Kvitova's 2013 New Haven debut against Annika Beck. That match will be played this afternoon no earlier than 3:30 p.m. on the main court.
Kvitova, ranked No. 9 in the world, was originally slated to face Agnieszka Radwanska in the first round. However Radwanska, the No. 4 ranked women's player in the world from Poland, was forced to withdraw on Monday due to a viral illness. Beck, a 19-year-old German, took her place by virtue of being a “lucky loser” — the highest ranking player (No. 49) among players not advancing past the qualifying round.