Unranked Tsvetana Pironkova created one of the biggest shocks of the US Open so far on Thursday, with the Bulgarian defeating tenth seed and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza in straight sets to reach the third round
Playing in her first event since Wimbledon three years ago after giving birth, Pironkova had beaten Liudmila Samsonova in the first round though was quickly down a break here, with Muguruza starting very brightly. The Spaniard was in control of the early proceedings and at 4-2 had three break points to take complete control of the opening set, though was crucially unable to convert them.
Perhaps buoyed by saving those break points, the Bulgarian started to create problems for Muguruza on serve and broke when the tenth seed was serving for the set at 5-4. With errors starting to flow from her opponent Pironkova, a semifinalist at Wimbledon ten years ago, went in front for the first time and converted a third set point on her opponent’s serve to win the opener from 3-5 down.
Pironkova was striking the ball beautifully and was untroubled on serve, though missed five break points in the fourth game as Muguruza clung on in this hard-hitting encounter. The Australian Open runner-up could not get close to Pironkova on serve and as she continued to struggle, Pironkova broke for a 5-3 lead. It would have been understandable if she had been nervous serving for the match, but she quickly generated three match points and an ace on the first sealed a 7-5, 6-3 victory.
A lot may be made of Muguruza’s disappointing performance and the Spaniard’s inability to take advantage of her first set lead, though full credit must go to Pironkova for what was a special performance out on Court 17. Whilst her defeated opponent’s struggles at Flushing Meadows continue, Pironkova is now in the third round in New York for the first time since 2012.
Up next for the Bulgarian will be 18th seed Donna Vekic, who dropped just three games in her second round match against Patricia Maria Tig. Vekic may go in as the favorite, though it would be unwise to discount Pironkova following today’s astonishing performance.