London: Wimbledon title favourite Karolina Pliskova crashed to a shock second round defeat against world number 108 Magdalena Rybarikova on Thursday.
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 a top contender to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish.
She became the firm favourite on Wednesday when compatriot and 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 how far Kerber and Simona Halep progress.
"For the first two seeded girls, Angie and Simona, they have also some tough draws," Pliskova said.
"But for me, the tournament is over. So whatever happens happens. I'm not going to pray for somebody losing or winning. That's not my thing."
Asked what causes her Wimbledon woes, Pliskova admitted she still finds it hard to adapt to the grass courts.
"You have to get used to it. It's different, tennis here. You cannot compare to clay or hard courts," she said.
"The jump from the ball is always different. It doesn't go high. You have to bend your knees, which is always trouble for me.
"There are few other things which I really don't like on grass. Probably something in the air here!
"Obviously it's disappointing. I don't think I played bad.
"I'm just waiting for one or two good matches here in a row."
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."
Former US and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded seven, took her career record over fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova to 7-1 with a 6-0, 7-5 win.
Kuznetsova next faces Slovenia's world number 265th Polona Hercog, who reached the third round at a Slam for the first time since 2010 with a 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-2 win over Varvara Lepchenko of the United States.
Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 runner-up, saved two match points to see off Christina McHale 5-7, 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.
On the men's side, Austrian eighth seed Dominic Thiem fought back from a set down to defeat Frenchman Gilles Simon 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday and move into the Wimbledon third round for the first time.
Thiem, viewed as one of the talents that could, in time, push to enter the tennis elite, finished emphatically with an 135 mph ace, the last of three huge serves with which he closed out.
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.
Although he has yet to replicate that clay and hard-court form on grass, his display against the experienced Simon will leave him confident of getting past American Jared Donaldson or Italian Paolo Lorenzi in the next round.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jul 07, 2017 12:45 am | Updated Date: Jul 07, 2017 12:47 am