Tsvetana Pironkova Continues Extraordinary Comeback With Victory Over Vekic - UBITENNIS
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Tsvetana Pironkova Continues Extraordinary Comeback With Victory Over Vekic

Tsvetana Pironkova extended her remarkable run at the 2020 US Open (her first event in three years) with a 6-4 6-1 win over Donna Vekic.




Tsvetana Pironkova extended her remarkable run at the 2020 US Open with a 6-4 6-1 win over Donna Vekic. Her excellent performances are arguably the biggest surprise of this year’s event.


After spending three years away from tennis on maternity leave, the Bulgarian, now 32, used a protected ranking to enter the American Grand Slam tournament.

Many viewers may not have even noticed Pironkova was in the draw. And if they did, they probably expected her to go out in the first round. Or, at best, the second round.

However, the Bulgarian has confounded expectations. She beat World No.120 Liudmila Samsonova in the first round. Then she shocked World No.16 Garbine Muguruza in the next round.

Those wins earned Pironkova a third-round meeting with World No.24 Vekic, who reached the quarter-final at the US Open last year.

Pironkova Punishes Wayward Vekic

In the first set, Vekic looked like the better player. She hit an array of superb winners and dictated most of the points. However, she made errors at crucial moments, and it cost her dearly. She gifted Pironkova two break points in the set, and the Bulgarian took them both.

The Croatian could have been forgiven for wondering how she was a set down at that stage. But she needed to put it out of her mind and focus on mounting a fightback. She failed to do this. And, when things started going badly for her in the third game of the set, she directed an angry rant in the direction of her coach.

While Vekic was imploding, Pironkova stayed completely calm. She focused on getting as many balls back over the net as possible. Then she watched as the Croatian destroyed herself.

Ultimately, the only blessing for Vekic was that it was over quickly. She lost five games in a row as she gifted the second set to the Bulgarian in just 25 minutes. During that time, she hit just six winners and made 16 unforced errors. By contrast, Pironkova only made two unforced errors.

All told, it was a very strange match. But the Bugarian will not mind. She has now reached the last 16 at a hard-court Grand Slam for only the second time in her career. The last time it happened was in New York in 2012.

Can Pironkova go any further? It seems unlikely when you consider that her expected fourth-round opponent is Madison Keys, who tends to thrive at Flushing Meadows and looks to be in sparkling form. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to write off the Bulgarian comeback queen.

Muchova survives Cirstea scare

Karolina Muchova (@tenisalmaximo on Twitter)

Karolina Muchova is going places. She shot up the rankings from 141 to 21 last year and enjoyed an eye-catching run to the Wimbledon quarter-final.

Now the Czech has an opportunity to match that performance at Flushing Meadows. However, she will have to play a lot better than she did today.

Muchova took advantage of 13 unforced errors from Cirstea to claim the first set 6-3. Then the match swung completely the other way, as the Czech made 13 unforced errors and the Romanian won the second set 6-2.

Finally, both players got their acts together in the decider, and it turned into a pulsating battle. Cirstea wasted two glorious chances to win it when she served for the match at 5-4 and led 6-3 in the tie-break.

Both times, the Romanian allowed Muchova back into it and the Czech gratefully accepted. She eventually sneaked through 9-7 in the tie-break.

Muchova will be joined in the last 16 by Elise Mertens. The Belgian continued her serene progress through the draw with a 7-5 6-1 victory over Catherine McNally. She is yet to drop a set at the 2020 US Open, and she will face either Sofia Kenin or Ons Jabeur next.

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Leylah Fernandez Overcomes Pavlyuchenkova To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round

It was a tough day at the office for the US Open runner-up.




Leylah Fernandez (Darren Carroll/USTA)

Leylah Fernandez pulled off one of her famous comebacks in the Californian desert beating the number nine seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 41 minutes.


The Canadian hit 24 winners in the win while the Russian hit 46 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth before Fernandez was able to pull through in the end.

“What I am most proud of is the way that I fought and honestly today wasn’t my best performance,” Fernandez said afterwards. “But I fought for every point and I was trying to figure things out. I was proud I was able to find a way to get back in the match and get the win”.

After holding serve in her opening service game the world number 28 started putting the pressure right away on the Russian by getting two early break points but failed to convert.

At 3-3, it was Fernandez facing the pressure on her serve and the world number 13 had four looks at a breakpoint. On the fourth the Canadian cracked and double-faulted for the first break of serve of the match.

The Russian lead didn’t last long as the Canadian responded right away in the following game and the next four games went with breaks of serve as both players were struggling to hold serve.

Pavlyuchenkova eventually served for the set at 6-5 and was able to serve it out to take a 7-5 lead.

Pavlyuchenkova carried the momentum into the second set and broke Fernandez’s serve in the first game of the set but at 2-1 got broken once again and the set went back on serve.

It stayed on serve until 4-3 when Fernandez managed to get the crucial break of serve and that was enough for her to serve out the second set.

The first four games of the third set went on serve and at 2-2 again it was the Montreal native earning a breakpoint and breaking once again and despite facing pressure from the Russian was able to serve out the match.

After the match in her on-court interview, Fernandez was asked about all the support she has been getting recently and what it means to her to play on such a big stage.

“I got goosebumps,’ she said. “I was super excited to play here in Indian Wells for the first time and to play in a stadium where so many legends played who fought and won so it’s an honor to be here. I can’t wait to play my next match”.

Fernandez will next face the American Shelby Rogers in the round of 16 on Tuesday after she beat the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-0, 6-2.

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Bianca Andreescu Begins Indian Wells Title Defense With Rollercoaster win

The Canadian began her title defense from 2019 with a three-set win over her American opponent.




Reigning Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu is into the third round after a epic two-hour and 48 battle with Alison Riske which she eventually won 7-6, 5-7, 6-2.


” I’m very happy to be back and I felt all the emotions coming back here to Indian Wells, especially stepping on this court and it honestly feels awesome”. Said Andreescu.

The Toronto native fired 30 winners in a match that went back and forth in the last match on Stadium court.

The first set stayed on serve until 2-2 when it was the Canadian with the first two chances of the match to break and she was able to get the first break of serve in the match but failed to consolidate and Riske broke back the following game.

Andreescu had another chance at 3-3 but was snuffed by the world number 51 and the first set was decided by a tiebreaker. In that breaker, the number 16 seed jumped out to a 4-2 lead which was enough to take the first set.

After holding in her opening service game the Canadian had three chances for an early break in the second set but the American was able to save all three and held serve.

At 2-1, the world number 21 had two more chances and with a return winner on double break point she took a 3-1 lead and this time was able to consolidate the break and hold serve.

At 4-2, the world number 51 attempted a comeback and after earning two breakpoints of her own broke back to put the set back on serve but at 5-4 the Canadian had two match points but the American saved both.

At 5-5, Riske had two more breakpoints and managed to get the crucial break of serve and serve out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

The number 16 seed was keen on getting the early lead in the third set and she did just that to take a 2-0 lead and at 4-1 managed to turn her break into a double break and served out the match.

After the match in her on-court interview, Andreescu was asked what had happened in the second set and how she was able to respond in the third set.

” She played very well, I honestly had no idea what happened and she picked up her level while I kinda stayed the same,” she said. “Then I had to refocus for the third set and I had to change my tactics a little bit and it helped”.

Andreescu is now lifetime 8-0 in Indian Wells dating back to 2019 when she won and is still the current defending champion. She will take that record into her next match where she will face Anett Kontaveit.

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Aryna Sabalenka Out Of Indian Wells After Positive COVID Test

Sabalenka is the latest player to be ruled out of a tournament after testing positive for the virus.




Aryna Sabalenka returns a shot during a Women's Doubles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka says she is ‘looking OK’ after confirming she has tested positive for COVID-19.


The Belarussian was set to be the top seed at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells which will get underway next week after Ash Barty withdrew from the draw. It is not known as to if Sabalenka is currently experiencing any symptoms at present or when exactly she tested positive for the virus. She hasn’t played on the Tour since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last month.

Unfortunately I’ve tested positive at Indian Wells and won’t be able to compete,” Sabalenka wrote in an Instagram story.
“I’ve started my isolation and I’ll be staying here until I’m cleared by the doctors and health officials.
“So far I’m looking OK but really sad to not be able to play this year.”

It is unclear if the 23-year-old has received a COVID vaccination after she previously expressed caution over receiving one. During the Miami Open in March Sabalenka told reporters she was concerned about how quickly the vaccine has been produced and the effects it might have on her body.

“So far I don’t really trust it. It’s tough to say, but I don’t really want mine yet, actually, and I don’t want my family have it,” she said. “I will think about this. I mean, if I will have to do it, then of course I have to do it, because our life is a travel life and I think we are the ones who actually should make it. But I will see.”

In recent months tennis’ governing bodies have been urging their players to get vaccinated but some such as Sabalenka are still hesitant. On the other hand, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has previously called for the vaccine to be made mandatory on the Tour.

So far this season Sabalenka has achieved a win-loss record of 42-14 and has reached the semi-finals at her two most recent Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the US Open). She has won two titles in Abu Dhabi at the start of the season and then Madrid in May. Sabalenka also reached the final of another tournament in Stuttgart.

Replacing Sabalenka as the top seed in Indian Wells will be Karolina Pliskova who is a two-time semi-finalist in the tournament.

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