Tennis: Title favourite Pliskova crashes out of Wimbledon

Pliskova returns against Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova.
Pliskova returns against Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Wimbledon title favourite Karolina Pliskova crashed to a shock second round defeat against world number 108 Magdalena Rybarikova on Thursday (July 6).

Rybarikova battled back from a set down to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Centre Court, earning the Slovakian a last 32 clash with Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko.

Pliskova reached the US Open last year and the French Open semi-finals last month, but the Czech world number three has a dismal record at Wimbledon and for the sixth successive year she failed to get past the second round.

With defending champion Serena Williams sidelined while she prepares to give birth and world number one Angelique Kerber in poor form this year, Pliskova had been installed as the bookmakers' top contender to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish.

She became a firmer favourite on Wednesday when two-time champion Petra Kvitova was knocked out.

Instead, the 25-year-old will leave the All England Club empty-handed after squandering her title bid, although she could still be world number one by the end of the tournament depending on the results of Kerber and Simona Halep.

It is only the second time Rybarikova has reached the last 32 at Wimbledon in 10 main draw appearances.

"I didn't think 'I'm going to lose this match', but I was not that confident. I'm speechless right now and I'm so happy," said Rybarikova who has a 15-1 record on grass this season.

"It's an amazing feeling. It's special. I had two surgeries and I haven't played for seven months and right now I'm in the third round at Wimbledon."