Stephens, bounced in ’19 opener, rolls in Round 2

Tennis

NEW YORK — Tsvetana Pironkova smacked an ace on match point, part of the balancing act she made look easy from start to finish Thursday.

The shot punctuated a 7-5, 6-3 upset win over No. 10-seeded Garbine Muguruza in the second round of the US Open, Pironkova’s first tournament after a three-year break to give birth to her son, Alexander.

“If you make a good schedule and have the right motivation, you can combine the two things, motherhood and being a professional tennis player,” Pironkova said. “It takes a lot of work but, you know, everything takes work.”

A 32-year-old Bulgarian, Pironkova gave birth to Alexander in April 2018. She is playing in her 12th Open but her first since 2016, and it’s her first tournament since Wimbledon in 2017.

“It’s just great to be playing without that extra pressure I had on myself before,” Pironkova said. “Before it was almost like a life-and-death situation for me to win a match. Right now, it’s not really like that. It’s enjoyment to be on the court.”

Pironkova has no ranking because of her layoff, but she was a 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist, and is playing in the US Open for the 12th time.

The win over Muguruza was Pironkova’s 22nd against a top-20 player.

“It’s not something super new,” Pironkova said. “I was moving well and hitting the ball well. Why not win?”

In other second-round matches, Amanda Anisimova won a faceoff of American teenagers, rallying past wild card Katrina Scott 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. Reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin also advanced, beating unseeded Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3.

Anisimova, 19, a surprise semifinalist at the French Open last year, steadied her game in the second set and pulled away.

Scott, 16, is ranked 637th and was coming off her first tour-level victory in the opening round Tuesday, when she made her debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam. Anisimova, who is seeded 22nd, won the girls’ singles at the Open in 2017.

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