By Jim Fuller, special to emiratesUSOpenSeries.com
NEW HAVEN - When New Haven Open Tournament Director Anne Worcester bid adieu to a dejected Agnieszka Radwanska Thursday morning, she believed it was the last time she would have to think about an injury to a marquee name in the 2012 tournament.
Just a few hours later Worcester realized how wrong she was.
Third-seeded and four-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki was cruising along in her quarterfinal match against Dominika Cibulkova when she landed wrong on her right knee in the first game of the second set.
Watching the popular reigning champion calling for medical assistance in the middle of Cibulkova’s service game was enough for Worcester to come out onto the court to see whether an injury would claim another of the tournament’s heavy hitters.
"The feeling is that it seems to be fine," Worcester said. "She obviously played well and she made very quick work of Cibulkova who has been playing really well. She has been in with the WTA trainers and we are just making sure that it is smart and safe for her to continue. Obviously we are hoping for the best.
"Caroline, as much as she loves this tournament, if it is not the right thing for her to play then she shouldn't do that. We hope she is OK and we are keeping our fingers crossed that she'll be healthy and ready to go at 1 o'clock [when Wozniacki is scheduled to face Maria Kirilenko in the singles semifinals]."
Worcester saw how withdrawals impacted the tournaments after the Olympics and leading into the upcoming US Open. The New Haven Open did lose some players including former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and rising American star Christina McHale shortly before the main draw began, but Worcester was still ecstatic to have four top-10 players and seven of the top-14 when play began on Sunday.
Still, she knew there was the potential for more attrition once the tournament began, especially since players dealing with injuries aren’t likely to risk participating in the final Grand Slam event of 2012 to continue on in New Haven.
"I've been watching all of these withdrawals from Montreal and Cincinnati knowing we were not going to be exempt," Worcester said. "The players came out of the Olympics really banged up. If you look at Montreal and Cincinnati and when you look at the fact that Sharapova and Azarenka haven't played any tournaments because of injury heading into the US Open and they are preparing for the US Open only by rest and practice, that is pretty draconian."
Wozniacki was hoping that she would be able to play in the semifinals and continue her bid for a fifth straight title. Shortly after suffering the injury she looked into the stands where her coach Thomas Johannson as well as her father was sitting to see if they wanted her to quit. When they encouraged her to continue, she finished off Cibulkova.
"I'm a competitor," Wozniacki said. "I always want to win. I always want to finish. I always want to do my best. "You need to judge whether it's going to get worse or it's not. That's all decisions you need to make yourself, decisions that are important because you don't want to jeopardize long-term injury. It doesn't matter what tournament it is."