NEW HAVEN, CT, USA – Agnieszka Radwanska took a wildcard into the Connecticut Open with the aim of putting the finishing touches on her US Open preparation and build on the momentum that took her into the quarterfinals in Cincinnati.
“I didn’t play that many matches this summer,” the top seed said during her pre-tournament press conference. “This is a great opportunity to have a couple more good matches against good players. It’s always a strong draw here, and I’m very happy to be back.
“As we know, courts are different everywhere. But here, it’s pretty much the same courts and conditions as the US Open, so this is great preparation.”
Looming in the second round for Radwanska could be former World No.1 and longtime friend Caroline Wozniacki, who plays Jelena Ostapenko to start the week.
“I think it’d be a great match before the US Open; she still has one match to win and it won’t be easy against Ostapenko, but we’ll see.
“We’ve known each other since we played a first round together when we were 10 years old. It’s great to have someone like this next to you your whole career since the under-14s, the under-16s then the 25Ks on the ITF Circuit. It’s more fun to know someone for years, but when we’re on the court, we’re opponents.
“When you’ve played so many matches and practices against each other, it’s tough, but every match is a different story, especially with different surfaces and conditions. I think you play each point as it comes.
“I think we both want to win on the court, but we’ve been good friends for so many years, and it’s good to be able to separate tennis and your private life. That’s what we’ve done well, and it’s why we’re still friends.”
Can't wait to see my @connecticutopen fans! Hope you can come out to watch and support me https://t.co/EqlrW74zCv #CTOpen16
— Aga Radwanska (@ARadwanska) August 20, 2016
The match would come at the end of an up and down summer for Radwanska, who suffered through a grueling travel itinerary to get to the Olympic tennis event in Rio de Janeiro only to fall in straight sets to Zheng Saisai.
“It’s always very tricky, especially since you don’t know how you’ll do before or after. You know scheduling will be very tight with everything in a row; that’s why I hadn’t entered here earlier, because I didn’t know how things would go. I didn’t play enough, and that’s why I’m here.
“I think tournaments like this are always very challenging. There’ll be good matches from the first round, and you have to push yourself 100%; it can be pretty hot and humid, and every match matters.”
Still, it has been a solid season for the Pole, who may rue her lost opportunities at Wimbledon, where she fell in a classic three-setter to rival Dominika Cibulkova, but hopes for a strong finish so that she may mount a defense of her BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global title.
“The beginning of the year was good, a couple of big semifinals, and winning a tournament to start the year. My grass court season was disappointing, and so maybe I’d’ve changed that, but it’s hard to play your best all the time. I was playing good tennis last week in Cincinnati, so hopefully I can do the same this week.
“Singapore was the biggest week of my career, with so many big matches. I remember it like it was yesterday. This year I’m fighting to get back, and plenty of players are hoping to be there as well. I think everything is open, and anyone can be there.”
Around the grounds, American wildcard Shelby Rogers played emphatic tennis to defeat Kristina Mladenovic, 6-1, 6-1, while Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova won a battle of veterans to defeat Sara Errani, 7-5, 6-2.
Madison Keys was set to play in New Haven before she was forced to withdraw due to a neck injury:
— Madison Keys (@Madison_Keys) August 21, 2016