Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova made a fantastic start to her 2014 season, where she reached her first ever WTA final with a semi-final victory over second seed Petra Kvitova at the Sydney International on Thursday. She credits her improved mentality and her nonchalant approach as the reasons behind her newfound confidence.
“I feel confident,” said Pironkova, who said her main goal is to win her first career title. “I’m going after my shots. Even if I lose, I don’t take it so seriously, because last year when I lost I have been crying, breaking [racquets]. I’ve been a mess. Now I’m like, ‘Okay, next time, you know?’ So I’m more relaxed.”
The world number 107 dropped only seven games last night and defeated her second top-ten ranked opponent this week, with the first being a straight sets victory over Italian third seed Sara Errani. She has now won seven matches to get to the Sydney final, including the qualifying round. The wins makes her the first ever qualifier to reach the finals in Sydney since the beginning of the Open Era.
Pironkova admits that her performance in Sydney is refreshing after her terrible 2013 season, where her anxiety got the best of her and she was simply unable to make the best of the year.
“Definitely a difficult season last year, very disappointing,” she said. “If we excluded Wimbledon performance and a couple of quarterfinals, what happened? I really don’t know. I’ve been trying my best through the year. The off-season last year I was working so hard. I never worked that hard in my life. Just didn’t work for me.
“I started to get anxious. I think that also didn’t help me a lot. When you lose so many matches in a row, definitely that affects your confidence. It’s normal. I couldn’t get out of that until the end of season. After the end of the season I took like a longer break. I’ve been working mostly on my own. I say, ‘Okay, what the hell. You don’t have anything to lose. Just relax and enjoy the game.’”
Pironkova will meet fifth seed Angelique Kerber in the final of the Apia International in Sydney tomorrow afternoon.