By Jake Davies
- Linz’s top seed Magdalena Rybarikova talks through the dark times of 2016, where she was away from the sport through injury.
- Rybarikova looks to make an impression here in Linz after two big surgeries on her wrist and knee.
LINZ, AUSTRIA – Magdalena Rybarikova is the No.1 seed this week in Linz and during her pre-tournament press conference she talked about longterm injuries, dealing with pressure and her expectations for the tournament.
The road back to the higher level of professional tennis has not been easy for Magdalena Rybarikova. For many tennis professionals having to deal with a long-term injury can set a career back by months and sometimes even years, but Rybarikova has had to deal with a succession of injuries, which required surgery.
Her 2016 season was cut short after Wimbledon where she then decided to take time off to undergo surgery on both her left wrist and her right knee. At the end of the season, she was ranked at No. 156 and fell as low as No. 453, but not only a fairytale run to the Wimbledon semi-finals, but a magnificent turnaround of fortune in the ITF events in the grass court tournaments leading up to the third major of the year, improved her ranked significantly.
The unexpected run to the Wimbledon semi-finals was shocking for many Slovakian tennis fans, but it also came as a big surprise to Rybarikova. She was the huge underdog in her match against Karolina Pliskova in the second round and also came in as the unlikely winner in her quarter-final against Coco Vandeweghe, but she fought against the odds and produced her greatest ever result at a major, despite all the adversity she had faced just twelve months prior to the event.
Rybarikova is the top seed in the WTA International event in Linz this week and it is a tournament she is desperate to do well in in order to right the wrongs of the previous times she’s arrived in Linz. The Slovakian talked to the press about the expectation of delivering as that No.1 seed for a WTA event:
“Well, I don’t like to feel the pressure. It is a little bit different being the No.1 player here. People are expecting to maybe win it, but I don’t want to have this pressure, because for me this is amazing and every achievement is just a bonus now as I did not play for seven months. Right now I am No.28 in the world and I would never have said that at the beginning of the season.”
I asked Rybarikova, whether there was ever a particular moment where she doubted whether she could make a return to the highest level of the sport during those dark moments and she replied:
“For sure, because you never know after the surgery. I was very lucky because my knee and wrist feels very good. With the knee, it took a little bit longer than I thought. The doctor told me it was going to be good in one month and it took four months, so I was a little bit afraid as to whether I was going to come back. Then suddenly I played my first tournament without any pain. I had some moments where the knee was swollen, but I was lucky.”
The fairytale Wimbledon run is something that Magdalena Rybarikova will always savour and remember, but now she is determined to capitalise on that run and make an even greater impact on her ranking with a great run at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz tournament.
Magdalena Rybarikova starts her campaign on Centre Court on Tuesday, not before 6:30pm (5:30pm BST)
Main Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock
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