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.