Serena Williams facing Tsvetana Pironkova is a US Open 2020 quarter-final that no one saw coming. The presence of Williams is hardly surprising, but it is Pironkova’s run that has caught the most attention. Returning to the tour after three years and playing her first tournament since becoming a mother, Pironkova will face Serena Williams in what could turn out to be a very interesting contest.
There is a vast difference between these two players in the number of titles they have and their on-court achievements. However, Williams and Pironkova have both shown the way for working moms in tennis.
For Serena Williams, this match is yet another hurdle she will have to cross if she wants to win her record-equalling 24th Grand Slam. She started the tournament with two rather comfortable wins against Kristie Ahn and Margarita Gasparyan. The next two matches, however, have tested the 38-year-old and demanded a lot out of her.
Williams overcame a set deficit to beat Sloane Stephens in Round Three. In the 4th round, she held on to better a determined Maria Sakkari, in three sets. Williams has not been her dominant self at the US Open 2020, but her big serve and approach shot strategy has helped her in tough moments.
Tsvetana Pironkova is on a dream run. She has dropped just one set en route to the quarter-finals, which was in the fourth round. Before that, she had sailed through the draw and defeated two seeded players, one of whom is a two-time Grand Slam winner. Her wins against Garbine Muguruza and Donna Vekic have helped her confidence tremendously. All of this, in her first event in three years.
This will be their fifth meeting overall and the first since 2015. Williams has won all four of those matches. Pironkova has won just two sets against Williams, one in 2011 and the other in 2007. The American star’s previous two wins against Pironkova both came on hard-court and in straight sets.
The head-to-head record and career achievements all suggest this could be easy for Williams. But that is far from the reality of the situation. Pironkova is in great form and is playing with that ‘nothing to lose’ mentality, which is dangerous for top players to face. She has a strong serve that will test the Williams’ return, which has struggled this week.
Serena Williams will need to trust her serve and forehand strength, as she usually does. Williams’ serve and approach shot combo will come in very handy against Pironkova. The Bulgarian is a tricky player to face, but the 23-time major champion knows how to thrive when it matters most.
Prediction: Serena Williams to win in three sets.