The casual tennis fan does not know who Tsvetana Pironkova is. Pironkova is a Bulgarian player with a game that's fun to watch, but unfortunately, she doesn't have the mentality to match. She rose to prominence last year when she made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon, and she even took a set off of Vera Zvonareva in the semifinal match; Zvonareva defeated her 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The only other time the two had played each other, in Moscow in 2009, Pironkova beat Zvonareva 6-0, 6-2.
Pironkova upset Venus Williams at Wimbledon last year; she also upset Williams at the 2006 Australian Open. She has defeated the likes of Patty Schnyder, Ana Ivanovic and Elena Dementieva. Ranked number 33 in the world, the Bulgarian has never won a tour title. In fact, she rarely makes it past the second round of a tournament, and has never gotten beyond the second round of any major but Wimbledon (her ranking is as high as it is because of her Wimbledon performance last year). But here she is--a kind of self-made upset specialist--surviving into the third round, in which she will once again play Zvonareva.
Pironkova likes to use the forehand slice. Since she's been at Wimbledon, she has served really well and has made few unforced errors. She defeated Camilia Giorgi and Petra Martic in the first and second rounds, winning both matches in straight sets. Pironkova is a bit of a mystery, which--every once in a while, like at Wimbledon--makes her somewhat dangerous.
Zvonareva, seeded number 2 at Wimbledon, is not the same player she was last year when she made it to the finals in both London and New York. She looked a bit shaky against Alison Riske, though she did a good job of stopping Elena Vesnina from taking a set off of her today. If Zvonareva defeats Pironkova, she will face either Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez or Venus Williams in the round of 16. It's possible, of course, that the 2nd seed will improve with every match