Maidstone, UK. — Wimbledon might have come to a disappointing end for the three best American female players, but for 17-year-old Magdalena Rybarikova there is now the chance to prove she belongs among the game’s elite.
Rybarikova became the youngest Wimbledon women’s semifinalist since Monica Seles in 1993 when she beat the top seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round.
Rybarikova, ranked 135 in the world, beat three top ten players in the final four days, including Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova, a feat previously achieved by no player from the country’s women’s tour since 1975.
Now the Latvian has promised to return to the tour with a mission to prove that she can become the next women’s champion at Wimbledon.
“It is very, very sad to lose like this. But I was saying since the start, it is just the beginning,” she said, while receiving her runner-up trophy.
“I just can’t believe that I was able to reach this step. I hope next year I will come back stronger. And I will put up a great fight again next year to be in the finals and win.”
Rybarikova was calm, composed and aggressive throughout, battering the 26-year-old Radwanska to a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory.
Rybarikova told the BBC she always knew she had the talent to reach the semi-finals.
“I’ve been working a lot. I played a few good tournaments now and last year was better than before, so I’m so happy. I made a dream this year. When you are in the top 10 in the world this is very important.
“I think it will give me more confidence now, and I think it’s going to make me play better. It doesn’t matter if it’s Wimbledon or junior tournament. The next one is this one and hopefully I can go one more step.”
Bobby Reynolds, who works with Rybarikova in the Aegon Tennis Schools, said the teenager had the ability to be “one of the players who can really make a statement” on the tour.
“If she becomes the world No. 1 she’ll do that within a couple of years. I think she’s ready. The next set of dreams will be to become world No. 1 at 16 or 17. But she’s a very strong, powerful girl. She has a very good touch. I think she’s at her best when she’s playing on grass.”
On Monday Rybarikova called for the girls to get more chances to play on grass courts, because she thinks players who are “good ball strikers” cannot be pushed off the surface.
She had said that she was unhappy with the level of tennis being played, “but I know that it is a long way.”
“A lot of girls maybe think it’s not tennis. But players like Sloane [Stosur], she won it all before she was 20. Now the judges or the people in the Court of Appeals, these are people who have won.”
In third round matches one week ago some of the top players complained that the condition of the courts were poor. Rybarikova had more in common with Halep and Sabine Lisicki than with the other top names she faced.
Rybarikova dominated the points on grass, blitzing her opponents with huge winners off her serve.
Radwanska praised Rybarikova, but said she could see her day coming.
“She’s a very good player. Sometimes you don’t know how strong she is and then on this court it was unbelievable. Very fun for me to play against her.”
In the quarter-finals Halep reached the semifinal for the second time. But it was a disappointing experience for the French Open champion, who lost to Garbine Muguruza.
“I’m very sorry for Maria,” Halep said. “She’s played so well this week and it’s tough to lose against her.”