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.