Pliskova leads Czech Wimbledon challenge after Kvitova exit


Already wide open in the absence of Serena Williams, the women's singles draw at Wimbledon became even more hard to predict as Magdalena Rybarikova came from behind to upset Karolina Pliskova on Thursday.

A closely fought first set was ultimately decided through a combination of Pliskova's brilliance and a stroke of luck.

She beat both Venus and Serena Williams on her way to the final of the US Open previous year before losing to Angelique Kerber, and has since made the quarter-finals in Australia and semi-finals in Paris.

Rybarikova, 28, battled back from a set down to beat the Czech star 3-6 7-5 6-3 to blow the women's draw even more open than it already was at the All England Club.

Rybarikova meets Ukrainian world number 35 Lesia Tsurenko in round three.

But at that point the afternoon torpor that the crowd had been in all match seemed to descend on Pliskova. "It will be very hard".

A pair of Rybarikova errors put Pliskova on course for a simple win, but she could not consolidate the advantage, as a Rybarikova forehand down the line earned her a break back point, which the Czech surrendered by spraying a tentative backhand wide.

Rybarikova's unorthodox game, built on heavy slice, drop shots and a tenacious attitude, denied Pliskova any rhythm.

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Pliskova praised her opponent's performance, saying: "Obviously it's disappointing".

"That's tennis. You still can play well and you don't have to win".

The Slovakian, ranked 87, could hardly believe her victory, saying: "I was not so confident, I am speechless right now".

Rybarikova missed the second half of 2016 after undergoing surgery on her knee and wrist but has climbed back into the top 100 and went into the match with a 14-1 record on grass this season. That's my case today. I think it was a very tough round for a second round.

The 23-year-old reached the semi-finals of the French Open for the second straight year last month and has fourth-round appearances in the Australian Open and US Open.

"It's an incredible feeling".

"It's special. I had two surgeries and hadn't played for seven months".