The last six months could not be more different to the six prior for Aryna Sabalenka, who became the first seed to fall in the opening round of Wimbledon on Monday.
After winning three WTA titles—her first WTA triumph in New Haven last August, biggest title to date at the WTA Premier 5 event at Wuhan in October, and triumphing in Shenzhen to open her 2019 season—Sabalenka has cooled off considerably, going 14-15 in tournament play (she won three of four Fed Cup rubbers).
The Belarusian’s latest defeat came at the hands of 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova, who ousted the No. 10 seed, 6-2, 6-4. Sabalenka had reached the quarterfinals in Eastbourne, though came up stiff after diving on match point to edge defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in a final set tiebreaker to win their third-round clash. In her subsequent match, Sabalenka lost to Kiki Bertens in three sets.
Rybarikova picked up four wins to start her grass season at the ITF $100k event in Surbiton, where she finished runner-up to Alison Riske. The Slovakian endured her own difficult period starting in New Haven last year, losing nine consecutive matches before ending the skid at this year’s Miami Open.
In ousting the 11th-ranked Sabalenka, Rybarikova notched her first Top 20 win since taking out then-world No. 7 Karolina Pliskova last June in the Birmingham first round. The 30-year-old awaits the winner of an all-American clash between five-time champion Venus Williams and 15-year-old qualifier Coco Gauff.