It was Kvitová’s third time winning this Women’s Tennis Association event overall, and her fourth straight finals appearance in New Haven. Kvitová, who has won Wimbledon twice, had never before won an event three times — nor had she won one two years in a row.
“It’s my first time defending my title,” Kvitová said on court after the match, “So I’m very excited about that.”
The final took a little over two hours, with almost half of the match time going to a closely fought opening set. Šafářová, ranked sixth in the world, eventually won a first-set tiebreaker, 7–6 (6), 66 minutes into the match and on her third set point. It was just the second set Kvitová lost in the tournament, and it was the high point of the match for Šafářová.
At 1–1 in the second set, world number five Kvitová broke Šafářová’s serve for the first time in the contest. From there Kvitová needed just 73 minutes total to win the final two sets, 6–2, 6–2, on four service breaks. Šafářová never broke Kvitová’s serve in the match.
It was Šafářová’s seventh loss to fellow Czech Kvitová in seven career tries.
Earlier in the day, Julia Göerges and Lucie Hradecká took the doubles title, defeating Chuang Chia-Jung and Chen Liang in straight sets, 6–3, 6–1. The championship marked the Göerges/Hradecká team’s first title in just their second doubles event together.
With a qualifying field of 48 players and a main draw of 30, both singles finalists had to beat fan favorites and notable players alike on their way to the finale.
Kvitová bested former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in a semi-final match Friday night in straight sets, 7–5, 6–1. Wozniacki holds the record, with Venus Williams, for most tournament wins at the Connecticut event, with four.
And the only set Kvitová had lost this week before today’s finals match was in her second-round victory over American Madison Keys. It was 16th-ranked Keys’s debut in New Haven, and she lost her second match to Kvitová, 6–4, 1–6, 2–6.
In Šafářová’s semi-final, she took on ‘lucky loser’ Lesia Tsurenko. Tsurenko lost her third qualifying match, but was added to the main draw of the tournament when world number two Simona Halep withdrew with an injury. Tsurenko went on to win two matches, and was bidding to become just the second lucky loser ever to win a WTA event when she lost to Šafářová in the semis, 2–6, 6–7 (4). Even with the two losses in one week, Tsurenko’s semi-final berth will push her ranking to an all-time high of number 35 in the world as of August 31.
The other big story in the qualifying rounds before the main draw of the tournament was Carol Finke, a Yale sophomore who was awarded a last-minute wildcard berth. Finke lost in straight sets to fellow American Louisa Chirico, 2–6, 0–6, in front of a small but boisterous crowd of family, friends, and fans.
Total attendance for the tournament was 51,946, up more than 10 percent over last year. Tournament director Anne Worcester said it was the event’s second straight increase in attendance. The state of Connecticut bought the Open after the 2013 tournament, as declining ticket and sponsorship sales threatened its existence.
While overall attendance was up, 52,000 attendees for a nine-day event still adds up to a lot of empty seats. The Tennis Center’s Stadium Court is the world’s sixth-largest tennis venue, with a capacity of about 15,000, but Friday night’s Kvitová/Wosniacki semi-final drew a reported audience of just 4,800.
Attendance for the afternoon final was reportedly 3,507. The stadium’s upper deck was not used at all during the tournament.