Bulgaria’s top tennis duo, Grigor Dimitrov and Tsvetana Pironkova, have both advanced to the second round in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, the Australian Open.
Dimitrov, seeded 22nd in the tournament, won his opening match on January 14, defeating world number 93 Bradley Klahn from US in four sets (6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3) in just over two and a half hours.
Dimitrov had several opportunities to take the first set, with a break point on Klahn’s serve and two set points in the tie-break, but was unable to take advantage of the openings. In the end, his patient approach and superiority both on first service and the return game paid off, with Klahn never really threatening to pull off an upset as Dimitrov did not allow a single break point.
A day earlier, Pironkova too cleared the first hurdle in the tournament, defeating Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) in convincing fashion. Pironkova did not lose a single point on her service in the first set and headed off any chance of a comeback from the Spaniard early in the second, saving two break points in the fourth game before wrapping up the match inside the hour mark.
The win extended Pironkova’s winning streak to nine matches – last week, she won her first WTA career title at the Apia International in Sydney as a qualifier, defeating three top-10 players in the final rounds. During this streak, she has not lost a single set.
She will face a tough challenge to extend the streak, facing 17th-seed Samantha Stosur of Australia in the second round. Stosur has won all three meetings between the two, the latest of them in Sofia in last year’s WTA Tournament of Champions. The match will be played in the Rod Laver Arena in the evening (local time) on January 15.
In contrast, Dimitrov’s seeding gives him an easier opponent in Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan, ranked 53rd in the world. The two have never played each other before.
Neither Pironkova, nor Dimitrov have ever advanced past the second round of the Australian Open before – for Pironkova it is her seventh appearance in ninth attempts, while Dimitrov made it that far twice in his three previous appearances in the Australian Open main draw.
(Photo: Brad Touesnard/flickr.com)