Tsvetana Pironkova, who qualified and has reached the final of the Sydney International with her upset of Petra Kvitova, says that being less self-critical has helped her resurgence. A former Wimbledon semifinalist, Pironkova fell out of the Top 100 in 2013.
“Definitely a difficult season last year, very disappointing,” she said. “If we excluded Wimbledon performance and a couple of quarterfinals, what happened? I really don't know. I've been trying my best through the year. The off-season last year I was working so hard. I never worked that hard in my life. Just didn't work for me.
“I started to get anxious. I think that also didn't help me a lot. When you lose so many matches in a row, definitely that affects your confidence. It's normal. I couldn't get out of that until the end of season. After the end of the season I took like a longer break. I've been working mostly on my own. I say, 'Okay, what the hell. You don't have anything to lose. Just relax and enjoy the game.'”
The 26-year-old Bulgarian, who also beat former French Open finalist Sara Errani in Sydney, credited a more carefree attitude with helping her confidence.
“I feel confident,” said Pironkova, who said her main goal is to win her first career title. “I'm going after my shots. Even if I lose, I don't take it so seriously, because last year when I lost I have been crying, breaking [racquets]. I've been a mess. Now I'm like, 'Okay, next time, you know?' So I'm more relaxed.”