Serena Williams vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, Roland Garros R2 Preview

🇫🇷🐌 Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction:
🇺🇸 (6) Serena Williams vs. 🇧🇬 Tsvetana Pironkova

Serena Williams and Tsvetana Pironkova will go head-to-head at the second major in a row as the pair clash at the second round stage at Roland Garros. Williams just edged past Pironkova in 3 sets at the quarter-final stage of the US Open earlier this month, can the Bulgarian avenge that loss in Paris?

Both Williams and Pironkova are playing for the first time since their respective deep runs at the US Open earlier this month. Pironkova shocked the tennis world by reaching the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows despite being away from the tour for over 2 years. Williams defeated Pironkova 4-6 6-3 6-2 in the final 8 before being eliminated in the semi-finals.

Serena Williams made a decent start to her 2020 Roland Garros campaign, the 3-time former champion claimed a 7-6 6-0 win over Kristie Ahn to advance to the second round. Meanwhile Pironkova claimed a decent 6-3 6-3 win over Andrea Petkovic, the Bulgarian’s best result in Paris was a run to the quarter-finals in 2016, a year that featured similarly cold and rainy conditions to this year’s event.

Williams holds a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record over Pironkova. 3 of the 5 matches between the pair went the distance, Pironkova certainly made Williams work hard during their quarter-final clash in New York.

This promises to be a close match. I am not convinced by Williams on clay at the moment, Roland Garros has been Serena’s least successful major in recent times, the heavy conditions will make life even more difficult for the 39-year-old. The problem for Williams is that her movement is the area of her game that has declined the most, that is an area that can be exploited on clay more than any other surface. Pironkova has the mix of power and versatility from the baseline to really challenge Williams in these conditions. Williams is undoubtedly rusty on this surface, Pironkova can take advantage. The Bulgarian will have learned from her mistakes in New York, with a couple of adjustments she has what it takes to get the win in troublesome conditions.

Prediction: Tsvetana Pironkova to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, US Open QF Preview

2020 US OPEN – QF preview + prediction: 🍎🗽
🇺🇸 (3) Serena Williams vs. 🇧🇬 Tsvetana Pironkova

Serena Williams continues her quest for a 24th major title when she comes up against Tsvetana Pironkova in an unlikely quarter-final match-up at Flushing Meadows on day 9 of the 2020 US Open. Williams holds an unbeaten record over Pironkova and comes into this clash as a huge favourite, can the Bulgarian cause another big upset and keep her fairy-tale run alive?

Serena Williams is through to her 53rd Grand Slam quarter-final. Williams hasn’t won a major title since the 2017 Australian Open, something she will be desperate to change over the next week. Williams moved through her first few matches of the tournament easily enough, a 7-5 6-3 win over Kristie Ahn was followed by a 6-2 6-4 victory over Margarita Gasparyan. The 38-year-old overcame a couple of stern tests to book her spot in the final 8, a 2-6 6-2 6-2 win over the 26th seeded Sloane Stephens came before a hard-fought 6-3 6-7 6-3 victory over the 15th seeded Maria Sakkari. Williams will be competing in her 17th quarter-final at the US Open on Wednesday.

Tsvetana Pironkova is having an unbelievable week in New York. The unranked Bulgarian arrived in New York having not played a tournament for 3 years, in that time Pironkova gave birth and started her own business. Now the 32-year-old suddenly finds herself in her fourth major quarter-final, her first at the US Open. Pironkova moved through the first week of the tournament without dropping a set, a 6-2 6-3 win over Ludmilla Samsonova was followed by a pair of big upset wins. Pironkova defeated the 10th seeded Garbine Muguruza 7-5 6-3 before eliminating the 18th seeded Donna Vekic with a 6-4 6-1 victory. Pironkova booked her spot in the final 8 in New York with an extremely hard-fought 6-4 6-7 6-3 win over Alize Cornet.

Williams holds a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record over Pironkova. Williams won both of their previous hard court meetings in straight sets, including a 7-5 6-3 victory in their most recent clash which took place at the Western & Southern Open in 2015.

Pironkova has been brave but this is where her miracle run comes to an end. Williams is getting sharper and sharper as the tournament goes on, Pironkova is highly unlikely to match the physicality of Williams at this stage of a major tournament. Pironkova is at her best when she is able to dictate from the baseline with her strong backhand, Williams won’t allow this, Williams is too powerful. The strong serve and return of serve of Williams will mean Pironkova won’t get a chance to play her game, this spells trouble for Pironkova who is surely running out of gas coming into her 5th match of her first tournament in 3 years, Pironkova won’t be a threat defensively. Expect Williams to overpower Pironkova quite easily in this one.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova in 2 sets
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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. 


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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