Belinda Bencic vs Tsvetana Pironkova, Wimbledon R1 Preview

Wimbledon 🇬🇧 First Round Match Preview + Prediction
(7) 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic vs 🇧🇬 Tsvetana Pironkova

Belinda Bencic has drawn one of the toughest unseeded players in the draw, the seventh seed will face Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round at SW19 on Tuesday. This is a brutal draw for both players, both consider grass to be their preferred surface and would have great expectations heading into the third Grand Slam of the season. A first round loss would be a massive disappointment for either lady, therefore the stakes are extremely high heading into this match.

Belinda Bencic’s preparation for Wimbledon has been pretty good. The Swiss number 1 was sidelined for the entire clay court season with a back injury but has returned to play three grass court tournaments prior to Wimbledon. Bencic started her comeback with a solid run to the semi-finals in 's-Hertogenbosch but was alarmingly forced to retire injured in her first round match in Birmingham. Bencic returned to the courts one week later in Eastbourne where she suffered a 6-7 6-7 loss to Elena Vesnina. Although Bencic lost that match there were positive signs as she was seemingly playing without pain and at a reasonably high level, Bencic maintains that she is no longer effected by any ongoing injuries.


Tsvetana Pironkova has always been considered a dangerous opponent on a grass court since her semi-final appearance at Wimbledon in 2010, the Bulgarian backed up that performance with a run to the quarter-finals in 2011. Unfortunately for Pironkova she has only reached the second week at Wimbledon on one occasion since those spectacular results. Pironkova’s preparation for this year’s event has been quite good. The former semi-finalist participated in Birmingham as her only warm-up event where she came through the qualifying draw to reach the quarter-final stage.

Belinda Bencic has a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Tsvetana Pironkova. Bencic defeated Pironkova at the first round stage of Wimbledon last year, coming from a set down to record a 3-6 6-1 6-3 victory. Their most recent clash was earlier this year at the Sydney International where Bencic won 6-3 6-3. Clearly this is a pretty good match-up for Bencic given she has been able to defeat Pironkova at her two favourite tournaments.

I suspect Bencic will maintain her prefect record over Pironkova (assuming she is fully fit). Bencic is generally the more solid player, both possess world-class backhands but it is Bencic who has a better forehand and also has better movement around the court. Ultimately, Bencic has a few more strings to her bow and should find a way through this tough first round encounter.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova in 3 sets

Dubai DFTC Day 2 Recap

Day 2 in Dubai was again headlined by upsets as both of last week’s St. Petersburg finalists were dumped out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in the first round. Roberta Vinci was defeated by Yaroslava Shvedova in 3 sets whilst Belinda Bencic also suffered a 3 set loss, succumbing to Jelena Jankovic.


Ana Ivanovic made a huge statement in her opening round match in Dubai. The Serb recorded the biggest victory of her season thus far in what was clearly her best performance of the season thus far, defeating Daria Gavrilova 6-1 6-0 in less than an hour of play. Ivanovic was surprisingly solid and made few unforced errors in a very clean match whilst Gavrilova was a huge disappointment, playing her worst match of the season thus far. Ivanovic’s reward is blockbuster second round clash with defending champion and top seed Simona Halep on Wednesday.

Barbora Strycova and Elina Svitolina also made strong starts to their Dubai campaign on Tuesday. Elina Svitolina won her first match with Justine Henin by her side, Svitolina was a class above Jana Cepelova, earning a reasonably comfortable 6-3 6-1 victory to set up a second round clash with Garbine Muguruza. Barbora Strycova produced an impressive display of all-court tennis to comfortably defeat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4 6-3. Strycova served reasonably well and was very consistent from the baseline, using the drop shot very well against a slow moving Pironkova.


Belinda Bencic and Roberta Vinci were the two form players heading into this event after reaching the final in St. Petersburg last week. However, both ladies were unable to advance past the first round in Dubai on Tuesday. Belinda Bencic got herself into a winning position against Jelena Jankovic but lost her cool towards the end of the second set and ultimately suffered a disappointing 6-4 5-7 4-6 loss to the Serb. Roberta Vinci was a shadow of the player that stormed to the title in St. Petersburg, succumbing to Yaroslava Shvedova 0-6 6-4 3-6 in a topsy-turvy encounter. Sara Errani also advanced to the second round, defeating Chinese qualifier Saisai Zheng in straight sets.

Play will heat up on Wednesday in Dubai with a number of blockbuster second round matches including Ivanovic vs Halep, Muguruza vs Svitolina and Garcia vs Suarez Navarro. Every player left in the draw has some kind of a chance to go on to win the title this week, it will be interesting to see who makes the most of this relatively open draw at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. 


Serena Williams vs Tsvetana Pironkova, Cincinnati R2 Preview

Cincinnati R2: (1) Serena Williams vs Tsvetana Pironkova

Serena Williams will begin her title defence at the Western & Southern Open with a second round clash against Tsvetana Pironkova on Wednesday. Serena Williams arrives in Cincinnati on the back of a semi-final loss to Belinda Bencic in Toronto, her second loss of the year. With the U.S Open just around the corner, the world number 1 will be extremely motivated to avoid a similar slip in Cincinnati.

It’s been a remarkable year for Serena Williams, however her preparation for the U.S Open has been less than ideal. The world number 1 was forced to withdraw from the Bank of the West Classic, unable to defend her title because of a wrist injury. The American seemed to be on track as she closed in on a fourth Rogers Cup title last week but would suffer a shock 6-3 5-7 4-6 loss to Belinda Bencic in the semi-finals. Serena played one of her worst matches of the year, hitting a whopping 64 unforced errors.


After skipping Stanford and Toronto, Tsvetana Pironkova kick-started her U.S Open series with a 7-5 3-6 6-1 first round victory over Lucie Hradecka in Cincinnati. The Bulgarian had chances to close the match out in two sets but did well to regroup in the third set to book a second round clash with the world number 1.

Serena Williams has won all three previous encounters against Pironkova. The Bulgarian has pushed the world number 1 in the past, claiming the first set in the first two matches against the American. Serena’s most recent victory over Tsvetana was far more straightforward, a 6-2 6-3 victory in Beijing last year. This should be another comfortable win for Serena who will be fired up after her shock loss to Bencic, Serena will certainly not lose two matches in a row.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova in 2 sets

Belinda Bencic vs Tsvetana Pironkova, Wimbledon R1 Preview

(30) Belinda Bencic vs Tsvetana Pironkova

Perhaps the most intriguing first round matchup this year sees Belinda Bencic take on Tsvetana Pironkova. The Bulgarian is one of the most dangerous unseeded floaters in the draw, it’s unfortunate that she has been drawn against Belinda in the opening round.

Belinda Bencic arrives at Wimbledon full of confidence on the back of reaching the final in s-Hertogenbosch and claiming her first WTA title at the Aegon International in Eastbourne. The 18-year-old produced a stunning performance to rocket past Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 4-6 6-0 in her third career final.


Radwanska played a stunning second set, hitting an incredible 24 winners, it seemed as though the Pole would cruise to the finish line. However it was Bencic who raised her level in the final set, totally outplaying her more experienced opponent.

The former junior Wimbledon champion has shown that grass is clearly her most dangerous surface, her serve is particularly more effective on the grass courts. There is still room for improvement when Bencic begins to be more proactive and comes to the net more often.


Tsvetana Pironkova has also shown good form in the lead up to Wimbledon. Pironkova defeated Dominika Cibulkova and Samantha Stosur on route to the quarter-finals in Eastbourne before succumbing to Agnieszka Radwanska.

Wimbledon has by far been Pironkova’s most successful Grand Slam, the Bulgarian famously reached the semi-finals in London back in 2010 and reached the quarter-finals in 2011.


This will be the first career meeting between Tsvetana and Belinda, it promises to be a fascinating match between two ladies that thrive on the grass courts.

Although Bencic’s form has been great, I think she has probably played too much tennis in the lead up to Wimbledon, Belinda has played three weeks in a row leading up to Wimbledon and will only have two days to recover for her opening round match.

This is a tough match to call, however I’m going to side with Tsvetana. It could be hard for Bencic to regroup and prepare for such a tough opening round match.The Bulgarian has more experience on the big stages and will be the fresher of the two heading into this one.

Prediction: Tsvetana Pironkova to defeat Belinda Bencic in 3 sets

Tsvetana Pironkova vs Agnieszka Radwanska, Eastbourne QF Preview

Tsvetana Pironkova vs (9) Agnieszka Radwanska

Thursday’s first quarter-final in Eastbourne features two ladies who thrive on grass, Tsvetana Pironkova and Agnieszka Radwanska. Aga and Tsvetana have both had lacklustre results in 2015 but are both gaining much needed momentum heading into Wimbledon, a victory here would be hugely important for both.

Pironkova has once again shown her capabilities on grass this week, recording impressive straight set victories over Marina Erakovic and Sam Stosur in her opening two matches at Devonshire Park.

Tsvetana Pironkova advanced to her second quarter-final of 2015 with an impressive 6-7 6-4 6-1 victory over Dominika Cibulkova. Pironkova twice failed to serve out the opening set and looked to be heading towards a third round exit when she fell behind an early break in the second set. From there, The Bulgarian raised her level to win 12 of the last 15 games. The Bulgarian has always thrived on grass and will be a dangerous opponent for anyone over the next couple of weeks.


Aga has been untroubled in her opening two matches in Eastbourne, thumping Irina Falconi in her opening round match before upsetting Karolina Pliskova in the third round.

The former champion produced one of her most complete performances of the year to reach the quarter-finals, the Pole breezed past Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-1 in less than one hour. The victory was Radwanska’s highest ranked scalp of 2015 which should give her a much needed confidence boost moving forward this week.


Both ladies will know exactly what to expect from each other on Thursday as this will be the 11th encounter between the two. Radwanska has a dominant 8-2 head to head record and has won 7 of their last 8 matches. This will be the fourth meeting between the pair on grass, Aga won their most recent match in three tight sets at Wimbledon in 2013 whilst Pironkova defeated Aga in straight sets in Eastbourne back in 2012.

The head to head record suggests that Aga has a winning formula to get past Pironkova. The Bulgarian has several weaknesses in her game that Aga will look exploit. A three set match is likely but Radwanska should emerge victorious.

Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova in 3 sets

Tsvetana Pironkova vs Petra Kvitova, Sydney SF Preview

(Q) Tsvetana Pironkova vs (2) Petra Kvitova

Defending champion Tsvetana Pironkova will face by her toughest challenge of the week when she takes on Petra Kvitova in the second Semi-Final of the Apia Sydney International. This will be a rematch of last years semi-final where Tsvetana Pironkova notched up her first win over the Czech in a stunning upset.

Tsvetana Pironkova progressed through to the Semi-Finals after a comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. Tsvetana played better than Barbora at critical stages during the opening set and ran away with the match during the second as Strycova lost her cool.

Having been denied a wildcard entry and being forced to qualify despite being the defending champion , the Bulgarian has now won a stunning 14 consecutive matches at the Sydney International. Tsvetana will now need to overcome a determined Petra Kvitova if her fairytale run in continue.


Petra's route to Semi-Finals was less straightforward. Petra was forced to overcame an inspired performance from Jarmila Gajdosova, coming from a set down to eventually prevail 4-6 6-3 6-4. Jarmila played incredible tennis at times throughout the match, matching Kvitova from the baseline. However Kvitova was able to click into an extra gear when she needed to.

Gajdosova had a break point to serve for the match late in the third set but Petra stepped up to serve her way out of trouble. Petra then broke to love and served out the match comfortably to set up a rematch of last year's semi-final with Tsvetana Pironkova. After the match Petra mentioned that she remembers last year's semi-final loss to the Bulgarian and she is desperate for revenge on Thursday evening.


Petra has a 3-1 head to head record over Tsvetana. Their most recent encounter was last year's semi-final in Sydney where Pironkova prevailed 6-4 6-3 on route to winning the first WTA title of her career.
Petra will be well aware of the threat Tsvetana poses and should therefore be fully focused from the outset. It will take an almighty effort for Pironkova to defeat a determined Petra Kvitova, I don't think she is up to it.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova in straight sets

WTA TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup Preview

The lead up to the US Open hard court series is underway. The Istanbul cup returns for the first time since 2010 (Istanbul instead hosted the WTA Championships between 2011 and 2013). World number 15, Caroline Wozniacki is the number one seed at this year’s event and is the headline act in what is an otherwise lackluster field. After a disappointing start to the season, Caroline rebounded with a solid grass court campaign, however her Wimbledon campaign would ultimately end in a disappointing manner when she was defeated by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets in the round of 16. The former world number 1 will have her eyes firmly set on claiming her first title of the season in Istanbul.

Apart from Wozniacki there isn’t too much to get excited about here. The remaining seeded players are Roberta Vinci, Klara Koukalova, Elina Svitolina, Magdalena Rybarikova, Kurumi Nara, Bojana Jovanovski and Karolina Pliskova. Other notable participants include: Francesca Schiavone, Belinda Bencic and Kristina Mladenovic.

The top quarter of the draw is occupied by Caroline Wozniacki who has drawn Belinda Bencic in the opening round. This is by far the most intriguing of the first the round matches, Bencic has already claimed a couple of big scalps this season (Pavlyuchenkova, Cornet and Errani) and is certainly a chance to cause an upset here. If Wozniacki gets through her tricky opening round match she is likely to face the 8th seeded Karoline Pliskova in the quarter-finals. Pliskova has troubled Wozniacki in their previous two meetings, pushing the Dane to three sets on both occasions.

Quarter-final 1 prediction: (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (8) Karolina Pliskova

Klara Koukalova has also drawn a promising youngster in the opening round; she will take on Donna Vekic. Klara has already beaten the Croatian twice this year, both in straight sets and both on hard courts. The winner of this match will likely face Kristina Mladenovic in the second round. The talented Frenchwoman has a good opportunity to come through this section. Bojana Jovanovski is the other seeded player in this section, the Serb claimed the biggest victory of her career a few weeks a go at Wimbledon, defeating two time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Bojana should be able to navigate her way through her opening round matches to put herself in a position to aim for her fourth career title.

Quarter-final 2 prediction: Kristina Mladenovic vs. (7) Bojana Jovanovski

The bottom half of the draw is wide open. Magdalena Rybarikova and Elina Svitolina are the seeded players in the third section. Svitolina faces Kovinic in the opening round; Kovinic is coming off a decent run in Bucharest. In what looks like the second most intriguing first round match, Tsventana Pironkova takes on Stefanie Voegele.

Quarter-final 3 Prediction: Tsventana Pironkova vs (5) Magdalena Rybarikova

The final section features the number 2 seed, Roberta Vinci as well as the 6th seed Kurumi Nara. Remarkably this section also features 4 qualifiers. Vinci is coming straight from the clay courts of Bucharest, it is hard to see her adjusting to the hard courts of Istanbul well enough to make a deep run this week. Nara continues to steadily climb up the rankings; the Japanese number 1 is my pick to come through the relatively weak bottom half of the draw.

Quarter-final 4 Prediction: (2) Roberta Vinci vs. (6) Kurumi Nara

After all the tough times Caroline has gone through in the past few months, both on and off the court it would be great to see the Dane claim her first title of the year. I think she will do it, she usually comes through these types of events victorious.

Final Prediction: (1) Caroline Wozniacki def. (6) Kurumi Nara

Leave a comment below, who do you think will win the title? 🙂