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World No. 1 Simona Halep Withdraws From Connecticut Open, Citing Injury

Lori Riley
Contact Reporterlriley@courant.com

In the past two weeks, Simona Halep has played a lot of tennis.

She advanced to the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Aug. 12, winning the title. Then she had another whirlwind week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and on Sunday, she found herself playing in her second final in seven days, naturally turning into a three-set match against Kiki Bertens. Bertens won, and Halep was a runner-up in Cincinnati for the third time. Rain and delays plagued both tournaments.

So it was not a big surprise — a week before the U.S. Open — when Halep, the No. 1-ranked player in the world and the top seed at this week’s Connecticut Open, announced Monday that she was withdrawing from the New Haven tournament, citing a right Achilles injury.

Halep still came to New Haven on Monday, where she mingled with fans and attended a press conference.

“It’s really disappointing to withdraw from a tournament,” she said. “I feel tired, and [my] Achilles was really sore this morning. It’s nice to come back, but unfortunately I cannot play this year.

“This morning, I decided it’s really tough to get on court again. I had two great weeks. Actually, I didn’t expect those weeks to be so good. I really wanted to play here. That’s why I asked for a wild card. And thank you for the wild card, because it’s really nice to get one when you ask. It’s tough to make this decision, but I have to. I have to rest.”

Halep, who won the French Open this year, won in New Haven in 2013 and came back in 2014 but lost in the round of 16 to Magdalena Rybarikova.

“It was really important in 2013 when I won it,” she said. “It was one of my biggest tournaments won at that moment.”

Tournament director Anne Worcester said she was in touch with Halep’s coach over the weekend and, as of Sunday morning, Halep was still planning on playing.

“Not a day has gone by the past month that people haven’t said to me, ‘Are you sure she’s going to play Montreal, Cincinnati, New Haven and U.S. Open?’” Worcester said. “She’s a player who likes matches instead of practicing. There has been a ton of communication about hotels and airfare. It’s when they go radio silent that they’re not coming.

“As I watched her match [Sunday] — which didn’t start until 2 — and after 11 days of crazy weather and doubled up matches in both Montreal and Cincy, when she won the first set, I said, ‘OK, she’s still coming.’ But when they split sets, that’s when I got nervous. When they went into the third set and she squandered the match point, you could tell she was hitting the wall.”

Halep opened Rogers Cup play with a three-set win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenko. The match was rain delayed, and she had to face Venus Williams later that day. She won 6-2, 6-2, then had victories over Caroline Garcia and Ashleigh Barty to make it to the final, where she beat Sloane Stephens 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 in a rematch of the French Open final in a match that lasted 2 hours, 40 minutes.

Then it was on to Cincinnati, where Halep played Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round in another match that went three sets, but she won, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. She beat Barty in a third-round match that lasted into the early morning, then came back later that day to defeat Lesia Tsurenko in the quarterfinals.

“I didn’t expect it, to be honest,” Halep said. “I came off a long break; I was in a holiday. I was really empty, emotionally, after the French Open and Wimbledon.

“But maybe because I was relaxed, I could play my best tennis. It was a big challenge for me to come back and play good matches and also tough matches. We played two matches in a day, so it was really difficult, but I was happy I could do it.”

Halep said her Achilles had bothered her earlier in the year, and she had to pull out of a tournament before Wimbledon because of it.

“Hopefully, Wednesday, Thursday I can get back on court,” she said. “I will see day by day how it goes.”

Bertens, who is ranked 13th, is in New Haven and is still scheduled to play.

Makareva upsets No. 4 seed Pliskova: Ekaterina Makareva upset fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, the eighth-ranked player in the world, 6-1, 6-3 Monday afternoon. Makareva is ranked 47th in the WTA in singles but second in doubles.

“She is a very tough opponent,” Makareva said. “She is a big server. It’s very important to be focused on your serve and hold it and be aggressive. It was working today, and I’m very happy to get through it.”

Pliskova then played doubles with her sister Kristyna, facing Kirsten Flipkens and Alison Van Uytvanck, which the Pliskova sisters won, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 10-6. … The last American in the singles draw, Danielle Collins, lost to qualifer Dayana Yastremska, 0-6, 3-6.

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