Serena Williams can move just two matches from the still elusive 24th slam on Wednesday, taking on Tsvetana Pironkova for a spot in the semis. Pironkova’s quarter final run on her return after three years out is one of the stories of the tournament. The Bulgarian is one of three mothers left in the draw at this stage with the others being her opponent and Victoria Azarenka.
Pironkova’s run to the quarter finals has came out the blue, having played no pro matches since Wimbledon 2017. Her unique style served her well on faster surfaces, especially at Wimbledon. Her run here isn’t as a result of a broken down draw either with two seeds in Donna Vekic and Garbine Muguruza beaten on the way to the last eight. She beat Alize Cornet in a tough and tiring three setter to earn this match with Serena
Having lost a second set tiebreak before collapsing against Maria Sakkari at the Western & Southern Open, Serena would have been having a feeling of deja vu when she dropped the second set in identical circumstances. Despite being broken to begin the set, there would be no letdown in the third set though as she eventually came through 6-3 6-7 6-3 to gain some semblance of revenge. She hit twelve aces in the victory although this was actually one less than her defeated foe. “I thought about it, but ever so little. But it’s a completely different match and a completely different scenario, a completely different moment. I kept fighting,” she said about their previous meeting. “She was doing so well, she was being so aggressive, and I knew I needed to do the same thing.”
Pironkova is beginning to show signs of tiredness, something that has to be understandable after so long without match play. This one shouldn’t be too difficult for the No. 3 seed, especially if she keeps up her impressive serving stats. With a potentially mammoth tussle in the semis against Victoria Azarenka waiting, Serena will be eager to get through this one with the minimum of fuss.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets