by Kevin Craig
Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria had the biggest upset of the French Open so far as she downed the No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska on Tuesday, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The match, which started on Sunday but was delayed due to weather, resumed with Radwanska leading comfortably at 6-3, 3-0. After a 39 hour delay, though, Pironkova took complete control of the match, reeling off six games in a row to come back and win the set, losing only one point in her last two service games, to force a decider.
The third set was more of the same as the Bulgarian was able to win four more games in a row to start out, running her game streak to 10 overall. That 4-0 lead was cut to 4-2 as Radwanska got one of the breaks back, but that was all she could salvage out of the match as Pironkova was too good and closed out the match comfortably.
Pironkova, currently ranked No. 102 in the world, has been known as a grass court specialist as she made the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011, but has also showed her prowess on the clay courts, winning two titles.
That clay court skill was on display as she was able to take advantage of a distracted Radwanska, who seemed to be disinterested in being on the court. Pironkova made sure to not let the poor conditions get to her and just focus on what was happening on the court.
“Today I tried to leave the fact that it was raining out of my mind and just focus on each and every point. Obviously that worked. If the court is not fit for play…they would cancel the match right away. But today the court was okay, we could have played, and so we did,” said Pironkova, the former No. 31 player in the world.
Pironkova has now beaten the No. 2, No. 19, and No. 22 seeds in her run to the quarterfinals in Paris and is not done yet.
The French Open continues to be a site of struggle for Radwanska. Aside from making the quarterfinals in 2013, the Pole has lost in the first three rounds of the tournament in six out of her 10 appearances, including in 2015 when she lost in the first round to the No. 83 player in the world.
Radwanska made clear that she was happy with the court conditions.
“I’m just so surprised and angry that we have to play in the rain…it’s a grand slam. How can you allow players to play in the rain? I cannot play in these conditions,” said Radwanska. “I don’t think they really care what we think. I think they care about other things.”
Simona Halep, who lost to Sam Stosur on Tuesday, was also displeased with the court conditions.
“It was impossible to play in my opinion…no one cares about the players in my opinion,” said Halep. “I don’t care that I lost the match today, but I was close to getting injured with my back, that’s a big problem.”
Pironkova’s opponent in the quarterfinals will be Stosur, a former French Open finalist.