One of the Wimbledon pre-tournament favourites Karolina Pliskova was dumped out in round two on Thursday, with Slovakia’s 87th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova beating her 3-6 7-5 6-2 on Centre Court.
Third seed Pliskova came into the tournament on the back of a grasscourt title in Eastbourne and leading the Race to Singapore season rankings but had never reached the third round at the All England Club.
The top spot in the rankings was also on the horizon for Pliskova but she damaged her chances against experienced campaigner Rybarikova, who missed the second half of 2016 due to wrist and knee surgery.
The 25-year-old Czech looked lacklustre at times and lacked accuracy against Rybarikova, 28, whose never-say-die attitude was summed up by a net-side masterclass in the final game of the match that had the crowd gasping.
“It was very difficult to play Karolina Pliskova, she plays very well. I was not so confident, I am speechless right now. It is an amazing feeling,” Rybarikova, who reached a career high of 31 in 2013, said as she came off court.
“It’s special. I had two surgeries and hadn’t played for seven months, it’s amazing. I am so glad, It was a difficult time for me and my coach told me that something good was going to happen. This is it. “Could I win Wimbledon? I’m not thinking about it. It will be very difficult.”
With 23-times grand slam champion Serena Williams out expecting her first child the women’s field is now wide open and stranger things have happened.
Rybarikova meets Ukrainian world number 35 Lesia Tsurenko in round three.