Pironkova 1st Qualifier Ever to Reach Sydney Tennis Final
By Peter Collison, Apia International Sydney
Tsvetana Pironkova has continued her stunning run at Apia International Sydney 2014 after upsetting second seed Petra Kvitova to reach the final.
Pironkova, a qualifier ranked No.107, ousted the Czech 6-4 6-3, becoming the first qualifier in the history of the tournament to reach the final.
Despite the match being the Bulgarian’s first semifinal outside of Wimbledon, she didn’t shy away from playing her game and going for her shots.
The first four games went with serve but Pironkova lifted in the fifth game to break for the first time in the match.
Pironkova was firing on all cylinders, drilling a 138km/h return forehand winner that Kvitova could only admire as it raced past her.
It seemed the momentum had shifted when Kvitova broke back late in the first set to level the scores at 4-4 however the world no.107 had other ideas.
In the very next game the Bulgarian broke to love, with Kvitova not Pironkova looking like the player who was in only her second career WTA semifinal.
What followed was much the same, with Pironkova striking a brilliant forehand winner and serving an ace as Kvitova added to her error count, helping gift her opponent the first set.
In the second, Pironkova strolled out to a 4-1 lead but Kvitova was not done yet, beginning to demonstrate the form that steamrolled Christina McHale in the second round. The Czech got one break back and held serve comfortably for a 4-3 scoreline.
But Pironkova would not be denied, saving two break points in the next game to lead 5-3.
The match was over when Kvitova challenged a mid-rally ball on match point, believing the Bulgarian’s shot was out. Unfortunately for the Czech, she got it wrong, and with that, the match was over.
Following the match, Kvitova seemed upbeat despite the loss.
“I think the matches what I played was great, and I have three in my back. So I think it’s really good to have this record coming to Australian Open,” she said.
Meanwhile, Pironkova was ecstatic with the result and could not contain her excitement in post match press.
“I feel incredibly happy right now. In the same time, I’m trying to stay grounded and focused for the next match, which is obviously the most important match of the week,” she said.
Next up for Pironkova is Angelique Kerber, who dispatched Madison Keys in straight sets in the second women’s semifinal on Ken Rosewall Arena.
“She’s definitely very tough opponent. I kind of know what to expect knowing her game. But, you know, it’s a new day. You just go on the court, and the best thing is to forget all the previous matches and to concentrate on the moment, take the right decisions.”
Pironkova will be eager to capture her first title tomorrow night, and will be seeking to triumph at one of the oldest and most illustrious tournaments in the world.
“For me this tournament has always been one of the greatest tournaments,” she said.
“I been here a few times before. I been playing qualifying here, and I actually never imagine me going to the finals here.