The women’s final at the Apia International in Sydney has officially been set; World no. 9 Angelique Kerber will meet Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova to determine the champion at the 40th edition of this illustrious event. While the two competitors previously met on two occasions, only one was at the World Tour level, brining the official head-to-head to 1-0 in favour of Pironkova.
Fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber was in top form yesterday, as she eliminated budding American talent Madison Keys 6-4, 6-2, using her powerful double-backhand as her primary weapon. Prior to her semi-final victory, she defeated both Kaia Kanepi and Carla Suarez Navarro, both in relatively quick straight sets victories to become the only seeded player remaining in the tournament.
“I am trying to be more aggressive than some months ago and try to play my game plan from the first point, and it’s working. So I think that’s better than last year,” Kerber said.
On the other side of the net, Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova reached her first ever WTA final with a semi-final win over second seed Petra Kvitova at the Sydney International on Thursday. The world number 107 defeated her second top-ten ranked opponent this week, dropping only seven games in the entire match last night.
She has now won seven matches to get to the Sydney final, which include a straight sets victory over Italian third seed Sara Errani.The wins makes her the first ever qualifier to reach the finals in Sydney since the beginning of the Open Era – an impressive feat for any competitor on the tour.
“It’s definitely a milestone. This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time now and something that I’ve been missing, to go to the final or even have a title,” Pironkova said. “I have been here a few times before. I’ve been playing qualifying here and I actually never imagined getting to the final here.”
The two athletes have met once on the professional tour, with Pironkova besting Kerber 6-4, 6-1 in Doha two years ago. This time, they will meet for much higher stakes and it will be interesting to see how the Bulgarian handles her first ever WTA final. She has already toppled the third seed of the tournament, Sara Errani as well as second seed Petra Kvitova, leaving her with the fifth seed, Angelique Kerber in the final. The difference between the other two seeds and Kerber is that the German is currently playing some outstanding tennis and will make for a tough stylistic match-up for Pironkova.
Prediction: Angelique Kerber in Three Sets