Plucky Thai dumps Kvitova from Australian Open

Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:28am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Thai world number 88 Luksika Kumkhum sprang the biggest upset of the Australian Open's first day by dumping sixth seed and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-2 1-6 6-4 on Monday in her first match against a top 10 player.

The 20-year-old Luksika, the only Thai in the top 200 of the women's tour, showed great composure at a frenetic Margaret Court Arena to fend off the powerful Czech who came roaring back into the first round clash to force a decider.

With the contest in the balance at 3-3 in the third, Kvitova squandered a chance to break serve with a fluffed backhand and double-faulted in the next game to hand the Thai a chance to serve out the match.

Luksika, who made her grand slam debut at Melbourne Park last year as a teenaged qualifier, endured her own wobble on serve to hand the break back, but then went for broke as Kvitova served to stay in the match.

The pressure told on the imposing Czech, who sprayed a forehand to concede two match points and pushed another wide to hand the Thai the biggest win of her career.

Wearing a grin that displayed a mouthful of braces, Luksika bowed to a crowd that had been firmly behind the underdog and struggled to convey her emotions in halting English.

"I just tried like (there was) nothing to lose, just play the best today," the short-haired Thai told reporters.

"I don't know how to say it, like (my) heart shakes. First time that I play (world) number six."   Continued...

Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand hits a return to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed