LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Johanna Konta joined the exodus of women’s seeds at Wimbledon on Thursday, beaten 6-3 6-4 by feisty Slovakian Dominica Cibulkova, a player with a point to prove.
With Katie Boulter also losing it was left to Kyle Edmund to give the home fans something to cheer and he obliged later on Centre Court with a 6-4 7-6(0) 6-2 victory over American qualifier Bradley Klahn.
Last year, Konta became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since 1978, losing to Venus Williams, but her hopes of repeating that thrilling run were crushed by an inspired Cibulkova on a subdued Centre Court.
Cibulkova missed out on the 32nd seeding when Wimbledon’s seedings committee bumped seven-times champion Serena Williams up the order. She played with a fierce intent throughout to take out the 22nd-seeded Konta with a stream of winners.
Konta showed real guts to save four match points at 3-5 in the second set as the crowd finally rallied to the cause.
But Cibulkova showed no nerves as she served for victory, going 40-0 up and finishing off the Briton with a powerful first serve that Konta could only fend into the net.
“It feels great, it was a tough draw today and I could not be more happy with my performance,” Cibulkova, twice a quarter-finalist, said. “I don’t really think about the seeding now, I’ll just focus on my tennis.”
Konta had no answer and was clearly rattled during the match, moaning to the umpire about Cibulkova’s habit of geeing herself up by slapping her thigh.
“I think she’s very feisty in the way she plays. She brings a lot out of herself,” Konta said.
“She was slapping her thigh (between first and second serves). The umpire had a word with her and she stopped. She doesn’t do it in a malicious way; she does it to pump herself up.”
Cibulkova, who reached the quarter-finals two years ago, will play Elise Mertens for a last-16 spot.
Edmund, who has replaced twice champion Andy Murray as Britain’s number one, dominated on Centre Court to set up a third-round meeting with former world number one Novak Djokovic.
He is now the only British player left in the singles.
His clash with Djokovic will take place on Saturday when England face Sweden in the soccer World Cup quarter-finals.
Edmund’s coach, Fredrik Rosengren, is a Swede.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon