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Tennis: Thailand's Luksika shocks sixth seed Kvitova

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Little-known Thai Luksika Kumkhum hailed the biggest win of her career Monday after embarrassing former Wimbledon champion and sixth seed Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open first round.

The upset was even more remarkable after the 20-year-old failed to get through qualifying at the Shenzhen Open and Sydney International in the lead-up to Melbourne.

"I'm very excited to beat the number six player in the world," said Luksika, who credits Thai stalwart Tamarine Tanasugarn as her inspiration.

"Today is a great day for me, I am very happy."

The Czech came into the tournament in decent form after making the final of the Sydney International, although she fell to Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova.

And she had chances against Luksika, ranked 87 in the world and facing a top 10 player for the first time, but failed to show the killer instinct that took her to the Wimbledon title in 2011.

Her 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 defeat made her the highest seeded casualty so far at the season's first Grand Slam.

Luksika, making her second appearance at Melbourne Park having also reached the second round last year, enjoyed the backing of a noisy crowd supporting the underdog on Margaret Court Arena.

"I think it helped very much," she said of the support. "I just tried to play like I have nothing to lose, just played my best."

Kvitova admitted she was nervous going into the game and was bitterly disappointed to lose.

"I had a great pre?season, I worked very hard. I had great matches and I was just trying, and probably I put a lot of pressure on my back," she said.

"I think that probably I wanted it too much, and then everything just fell down."

The Thai number one, whose best tournament performance was reaching the quarter-finals in Kuala Lumpur last year, will now face Germany's Mona Barthel who beat China's Zhang Shuai.

mp/th

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140113/tennis-thailands-luksika-shocks-sixth-seed-kvitova