By Pravin Char
LONDON (Reuters) – Magdalena Rybarikova feels like she is living a fairy tale after reaching her first grand slam quarter-final by defeating Croatian qualifier Petra Martic at Wimbledon on Monday.
Ranked 87, the Slovak produced some sparkling all-court tennis to see off 135th-ranked Martic 6-4 2-6 6-3 in the last-16 clash.
“I’m in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, which was my dream,” she said afterwards. “This is amazing, this is like a fairy tale. I’m speechless about everything right now, I’m so happy.”
The 28-year-old, who had previously never made it past the Wimbledon third round, will next face Coco Vandeweghe.
Rybarikova is rare in the women’s game – a player willing to abandon the security of the baseline and rush the net in the heat of battle.
In a tight last-16 clash, she and Martic matched each other from the back of the court, exchanging stinging drives. But it was Rybarikova’s willingness to charge the net behind her sliced backhand on crucial points that proved the difference.
“I have always enjoyed play on grass, my favourite surface,” said Rybarikova. “I think it fits my game – I play a lot of slices, I go for volleys and I serve well.”
She acknowledged that her next opponent, Vandeweghe, was also in fine form on grass courts. Rybarikova will go into the match as the underdog even though she beat the 25th-ranked American at this year’s French Open.
“She serves amazing and she plays so fast. She doesn’t give you much time to decide anything,” Rybarikova said. “She’s one of the favourites to win this title. It’s going to be extremely difficult.”
(Reporting by Pravin Char; editing by Mark Heinrich)