Bulgaria’s two standout tennis players have had mixed fortunes in the first round of the US Open in New York, with world number 55 Tsvetana Pironkova advancing to the second round in the women’s draw, while Grigor Dimitrov (ranked 58th among men) dropped out at the first hurdle.
Pironkova won in straight sets (6-3, 6-4) against Italy’s Camila Giorgi, her return game and decisive edge in converting break points helping her overcome a wobbly first serve.
Pironkova is scheduled to play against Japan’s Ayumi Morita in the second round. The two met twice before, both times on hard courts in 2010, with the Bulgarian winning both matches in straight sets. Morita, ranked 89th, produced a minor surprise by beating 26th seed Monica Niculescu of Romania to progress to the second round.
This will be Pironkova’s 10th straight Grand Slam in which she reaches the second round, but she has never progressed further outside Wimbledon – where she reached the semis in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011.
Should Pironkova advance to the third round, she would play either Silvia Soler-Espinoza of Spain or Irina-Camelia Begu from Romania, who delivered one of the upsets of the tournaments so far, knocking out eighth-seed and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the first round.
Grigor Dimitrov, playing in only his second US Open, has failed to improve on last year’s first-round exit, losing to Benoit Paire in four sets (7-5, 3-6, 6-7, 2-6).
Dimitrov, who has been in poor form lately, required medical help early in the second set but did not appear to have been hobbled by the injury. Neither opponent appeared particularly convincing on their own serve as the duo repeatedly swopped serve breaks.
The Frenchman held on to his serve at what would prove the decisive moment of the match – the third-second tie-break – and appeared firmly in control in the fourth set, with Dimitrov unable to put up much resistance.
(Grigor Dimitrov photo by mirsasha/flickr.com)