Serena barely survived the Bulgarian in Flushing Meadows, down a set and a break before righting the ship en route to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, victory. Serena came out flat as a pancake in that recent encounter, and has undoubtedly learned from it. She owns a 5-0 career head-to-head record against Pironkova.
While clay is not Pironkova’s preferred surface, the conditions in Paris will certainly help her more than Serena, whose overwhelming power will be dampened by the heavier Wilson balls and cold temperatures.
“She's playing well, but I am too,” Serena told press. "I'm ready to play her. She'll be ready to play me. It will be a long match, she will get a lot of balls back, but so am I. I'll be ready.”
Serena will need to be ready for Pironkova’s forehand slice. Due to the Bulgarian's extreme grip, it’s difficult to tell when the chip is coming; it’s a great tool to keep her opponent off-balance. She surprised Serena with a short forehand slice over and over in their first set from the US Open.
But in typical Serena fashion, she was able to adjust in the nick of time.
“It's always exciting to face her, especially after our last match,” Pirinkova told press. “We played three sets, it was very exciting match, so we'll see. I'm definitely very excited."
Now that Serena knows just how dangerous the recently un-retired Pirinkova can be, expect a stronger, more confident start for the 23-time major champion.
The Pick: Serena Williams