BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Karolina Pliskova left spectators puzzling yet again why her powerful game has never translated to grass-court glory when she lost in the first round of the Wimbledon warmup at Birmingham on Monday.
The 1.85-meter (6-foot-1) Czech with the superbly steep serve who appeared to have the world at her feet when she became No. 1 last year, was outplayed by 19th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-3.
Rybarikova’s versatile tactics and shot-making fluidity enabled her to control the match almost from start to finish.
The outcome was less surprising only to those who saw Rybarikova beat Pliskova in the second round of last year’s Wimbledon, and who knew the Slovak won her first WTA title nine years ago on these self-same courts in Birmingham.
“I have a big respect for her, but this was not a day for her,” Rybarikova said.
“I was feeling really good. I made so…