October 22, 2017

Fairy-tale journey – from obscure ITF tournaments to Grand Slam semi-final

Magdalena Rybarikova’s journey from a hitherto obscure tennis player on the ITF circuit to the Grand Slam Semis has truly been a “Fairytale Journey”. After having undergone surgery on her left wrist for an injury, that had been causing her pain for two years, right after Wimbledon 2016, and right after that, her right knee went under the knife for another surgical process. She was forced to spend seven months on the sidelines to recuperate and only returned to tennis in February this year.

She started playing on the ITF Circuit, and in March was ranked as far back as 453 in the world. She slowly started making deep runs in the lower-tier tournaments, and in May picked up two titles — one at an 80K in Gifu and the other at a 60K in Fukuoka — two obscure cities in Japan. She impressed at Roland Garros with a first-round win over World No 19 CoCo Vandeweghe, which was a sign of better things to come.

The Slovakian has always performed well on the faster surfaces in her career, and she flourished in the grass-court season. She won two more ITF titles on grass — the 100K events in Surbiton and Ilkley — and reached the semi-finals at Nottingham. This helped her ranking rise into double-digit figures and she came into Wimbledon on a 13-1 win-loss record.

At Wimbledon, she stunned in-form player Karolina Pliskova, who was seeded third and was one of the favourites for the title, in the second round. She continued her good run against Lesia Tsurenko and Petra Martic to make her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final.

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