All the talk in the build-up to the US Open was about what players aren’t in New York when it should have been about who was travelling to Flushing Meadows.
Someone we never expected to be in New York was Tsvetana Pironkova who before her first match on the opening Tuesday hadn’t played a tennis match in over 3 years!
Pironkova’s last match prior for the US Open was at Wimbledon in 2017 on the 6th of July in a 3-6 4-6 loss to Caroline Wozniacki.
We surprisingly didn’t see Tsvetana after Wimbledon, a shoulder injury kept her out of what would have been her 48th Grand Slam event in a row at Flushing Meadows and in April the following year became a mother.
Tsvetana didn’t make a return in 2018 or 2019 but in a year which had to be paused the Bulgarian produced the comeback of all comebacks.
To go over three years without playing a match to comeback and make a Grand Slam quarter final is insanely brilliant.
Throughout lockdown we talked about players having to find their rhythm again and build up match play and you might have thought Tsveta would need time but she came in with her protected ranking and was a breath of fresh air.
6-2 6-3 vs Ludmila Samsonova
7-5 6-3 vs Garbine Muguruza
6-4 6-1 vs Donna Vekic
6-4 6-7 6-3 vs Alize Cornet
6-4 3-6 2-6 vs Serena Williams
The amount of work that goes into one of these events to prepare is tough but to beat these tough players and push Serena to three sets is as Serena said “incredible”.
One of the aspects of her game which stood out the most was her backhand, I love a two handed backhand down the line and she made it look effortless and hit the money time and time again.
I’m excited to see what the future holds now for Pironkova, The Bulgarian was unranked coming into the US Open but climbed of 9800 places in the rankings to around the top 150 in the world and the opportunities will come with that too.