It’s a funny old game, tennis, because just when one thought Ash Barty would be toppled off her World No 1 perch as a result of her loss to Alison Riske on Manic Monday, the only player who could usurp her also lost – Karolina Plíšková, who is out of Wimbledon after losing a marathon of a match to compatriot Karolina Muchova.
I think I had a lot of chances, for sure, Karolina Pliskova
This year is the first year when tiebreaks are being used in the final sets of matches at the Championships, and that was almost tested after over 3 hours of brilliant tennis.
Muchova, however, took the crucial break in the final set to claim a brilliant 4-6 7-5 13-11 win over the well-fancied Plíšková.
The win not only means that all of the top 5 women seeds are now out before the quarter-finals, but also that Barty will retain the top spot when the rankings come out after Wimbledon.
Plíšková was the only woman remaining in the draw who could threaten Barty, but she would have had to have reached the final to do so.
Now Barty, who was only crowned top dog a week before Wimbledon, will not have such a brief first reign.
In the battle of the two Karolinas, unseeded Muchova needed more than 3 hours 17 minutes to take down No 3 seed Plíšková in the all-Czech marathon clash to reach the quarter-finals.
Muchova, who was making her Wimbledon main draw debut this year, took down Aleksandra Krunic, Madison Brengle and No 20 seed Anett Kontaveit on the way to her 4th round battle against Plíšková.
She had to come back from a set down and go extra games in the third set, but Muchova found a way to outlast Plíšková to win 13-11 in the third to claim her first Top 10 victory.
Had Plíšková not dropped serve in the final game of the high-quality duel, Wimbledon would have witnessed its first final set tiebreak at 12-12 under the new rule brought in after last year’s tournament to prevent ‘never-ending’ final sets.
With Barty’s defeat earlier, Plíšková began the match as the highest seed left in the women’s draw and with a golden chance to reach the quarter-finals here for the first time, and the tall big-server seemed on course when she took the opener against her 22-year-old compatriot.
Debutante Muchova was undaunted, and took the match to her more illustrious opponent with some sparkling tennis.
Plíšková squandered a 5-3 lead in the final set and then served for the match again at 11-10, but was broken to love.
The tenacious Muchova did well to hold serve at 11-11 before going 0-40 up on the Plíšková serve thanks to a stunning clean winner off a forehand service return.
Plíšková got back to 30-40 with her opponent slipping over on her second match point, but Muchova got lucky at the 3rd attempt when her forehand return clipped the tape and dropped dead.
Up next, Muchova will face No 8 seed Elina Svitolina in the next round, the Ukranian having edged past Petra Martic to win 6-4 6-2 earlier in the day to advance.
“I think I had a lot of chances, for sure,” Plíšková told media afterwards. “Also started in the second set, I think I was not playing the best tennis, for sure, not today. My serve was totally — not totally, but quite off.
“I think she just played good. She had nothing to lose, so some shots were quite understandable. She just went for it. A little bit unlucky, but that’s how it is.”
Four Czech players had made it to the 4th round at Wimbledon tournament ahead of the day of upsets.
First up was Barbora Strýcová, ranked No 54, who took on Belgium’s Elise Mertens, the 21st seed for the second time in her career, roaring back from a set down to beat her 4-6 7-5 6-2.
When Plíšková faced compatriot Muchová, ranked No 68, she lost despite being the heavy favourite.
Finally, in the most highly anticipated match, 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová lost to Britain’s No 1, Johanna Konta, 4-6 6-2 6-4.
Strýcová will now face Konta in the quarter-finals.