2014 Tournament Preview: Connecticut Open

March 7, 2014 03:58 PM
Simona Halep waves to the crowd after defeating Petra Kvitova for the 2013 Connecticut Open title.

Where: Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale, New Haven, CT
When: Aug. 17-23 (qualifying starts Aug. 15)
Defending Champion: Simona Halep (singles); Sania Mirza and Zheng Jie (doubles)
Tournament Website: www.newhavenopen.com

History: The Connecticut Open has been played in New Haven, Conn., since 1998. The tournament, also recognized as the U.S. Women’s Hard Court Championships, began in 1948. After not being held from 1970 to 1987, it was revived in San Antonio in 1988 and was moved to Vermont in 1993. It was held in New Haven as a dual event in conjunction with the ATP World Tour from 2005 to 2010, at which time the men’s component moved to Winston-Salem, N.C. The event changed its name from the New Haven Open at Yale to the Connecticut Open in June. Past women’s champions in New Haven include Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin, Petra Kvitova, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki.

2013 Recap: The unseeded Romanian Simona Halep romped through the draw, knocking off Daniela Hantuchova and New Haven’s two previous champions, Wozniacki and Kvitova, all in straight sets, to earn her fourth of six titles on the year – and her first in North America. In doubles, the third-seeded pair of Sania Mirza and Zheng Jie defeated second seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Katarina Srebotnik, 6-3, 6-4.

2014 Preview: The last women’s tournament on the Emirates Airline US Open Series schedule, New Haven often decides the Series women’s champion. In fact, Wozniacki won the Connecticut Open in 2010 en route to the Series title, and Kvitova did the same in 2012. Other recent participants in New Haven include Marion Bartoli, Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sloane Stephens and Samantha Stosur.

Fun Fact: The Connecticut Open also plays host to the championship rounds of the US Open National Playoffs, which award a men’s and women’s wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament and a mixed doubles wild card into the main draw of the US Open.

Legends of the Game: This year, the Connecticut Open will hold its first-ever Legends event on Wednesday, Aug. 20, and Thursday, Aug. 21. In the event, former world No. 4 and Connecticut native James Blake will square off against four-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier Wednesday night and go up against his friend and rival, 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick, on Thursday. Both matches will take place after the 7 p.m. featured WTA match.

– E.J. Crawford