Rybakina carried out a tough management in Tokyo. Have tennis officials finally finished with Elena?

Update Post: November 30, 2023 4:53 pm

Elena Rybakina withdrew from the WTA 500 tournament in Tokyo taking place this week. Very unexpected news that has baffled tennis fans.

“I am very sorry to withdraw from the Tokyo tournament. I really wanted to play in the tournament and I really like the city. But it is necessary to put health and physical fitness first. And I need time to fully restore my health. As a tennis player I want to give everything on the court, but right now my body is not prepared for that. I decided to listen to my body and withdrew from the tournament. I love Japan, the fans here are unique, so it was a difficult decision for me. As for the problems with the WTA, this is another reason for my doubts and I will express them clearly in the future. Thank you fans for your support, I really appreciate it!” Rybakina explained her decision.

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Rybakina, as the third seed, expected to miss the first round in Tokyo, but did not gain direct access to the second round. In the first round in the capital of Japan rest Iga Swiatek (1), Jessica Pegula (2), Maria Sakkari (4) and Caroline García (5). Despite the fact that Sakkari and García are seeded below Rybakina (3). Why it happened? The WTA has a special “performance-based BYE” rule. It is not used very often, but this does not change the essence. In short, BYE is resting players who played a lot last week.

Sakkari and García had the opportunity to skip the first round in Tokyo because they went far in the recent tournament in Guadalajara. On September 24, María won this “thousand”, defeating the American Caroline Dolehide in the final (7-5, 6-3). On September 23, Sakkari defeated García in the semifinals (6-3, 6-0).

Caroline García and María Sakkari

Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

From Mexico, María and Carolyn went to Japan, practically on the other side of the world. It is logical that Greek and French women need time to rest and acclimatize to the new time zone. Unfortunately, Sakkari and García gave it to them to the detriment of Rybakina, who, although superior to them in the classification, played her last match on September 2, losing to the Romanian Sorana Cirste (3: 6, 7: 6, 4 :6). at the US Open.

“Thank you for changing the rules at the last minute. As always, great decisions, WTA,” Rybakina wrote even before withdrawing from the tournament.

In a summary of the Tokyo tournament, published on the WTA website on September 21, it was stated that BYE will be received by “the top four or six seeded tennis players (depending on their performance in Guadalajara).” As a result, the organizers decided to automatically move two athletes who did not play in Mexico (Swiatek, Pegula) and two who showed excellent results there (Sakkari, García) to the second round. Rybakina is lower in the ranking than Iga and Jessica, but in terms of freshness she clearly had an advantage over Maria and Caroline.

In the first round, Elena Rybakina was supposed to play with the 44th racket in the world, the Czech Linda Noskova, but after her withdrawal, the lucky Japanese loser Himeno Sakatsume will take her place. Is Rybakina’s indignation justified? Yes, to a certain extent. Rybakina’s very diplomatic explanations about the reasons for her withdrawal from the Tokyo tournament reveal a statement. Elena has a serious conflict with the WTA. Rybakina has already taken on the main organization in women’s tennis.

“It’s a shame. I feel like I’m not quite a champion,” Elena said when at the 2022 US Open she, at that time the current Wimbledon winner, was assigned to play on court number 12, one of the smallest in New York. York. York. At Wimbledon no points were awarded due to the suspension of Russian and Belarusian tennis players, so Rybakina was only ranked 25th, although she could have been in the top 10. Elena sensationally crashed in the first round, losing against the little-known Frenchwoman Clara Burel. Rybakina arrived at the tournament in poor condition and blames herself for the defeat. But her comment about the court seemed appropriate. The Wimbledon champion could have been given a better venue, regardless of the classification.

Elena Rybakina

Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

This year’s Montreal Masters schedule has caused discontent among many tennis players. Rybakina is one of them. Elena defeated Russian Daria Kasatkina in the quarterfinals (5-7, 7-5, 7-6) in 3 hours and 27 minutes. The game ended at approximately three in the morning. Rybakina criticized the WTA for not handling scheduling issues well and accused officials of lacking professionalism.

“This is the first time the game has lasted this long. We finished very late. This is the first time and, I hope, the last time, because it was a bit unprofessional from the point of view… I can’t say that the fault lies with the tournament management, because this is a matter for the WTA, the The management of the organization is still a bit weak,” Rybakina said at the post-match press conference.

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In the next stage, Elena lost to Russian Lyudmila Samsonova, who also suffered problems due to her busy schedule. Montreal completely exhausted Rybakina. At the following Cincinnati Masters, she retired in the third round match and then did not perform well at the US Open.

The Tokyo incident marked a new round in the conflict between Rybakina and the WTA. BYE is a well-known rule in women’s tennis. Players are notified of their use in advance. Elena believes that she was informed too late about the need to advance to the first round match. The right of her. Rybakina has her own reasons for not liking the WTA management. Many tennis fans supported Elena in the publication of the official WTA account about the tournament in Tokyo.

“Goodbye WTA! You are so unfair to Rybakina” “Seeding should be based on results! Why does Elena have to play in the first round because Garcia and Sakkari decided to play in all possible tournaments? They decided for themselves how to do it their schedule” “The WTA hates Elena Rybakina” “The BYE rule is strange in itself. This means that the WTA cannot create a normal schedule so that everyone can relax and participate normally in the next tournament, even if they have to fly from the other side of the world”. “Just get rid of this weird rule. It doesn’t make any sense.”

“I agree 100% with Rybakina. They plan the tournament schedule in advance. They are aware of all the risks. “Seeded players should not suffer just because they did not play in the tournament the week before,” Australian tennis player Renee Stubbs wrote on social media.

Of course, there are criticisms of Rybakina’s decision. The main arguments of the fans are that Elena has not been on the court for more than three weeks, so she could very well deign to play a first round match with an opponent who is far from stellar. In addition, the Tokyo tournament lasts only one week, unlike the Grand Slams or Masters in Indian Wells and Miami.

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To some extent, tennis fans’ discontent is understandable. Elena would teach the tennis establishment a lesson by entering the court in the first round and ultimately winning the tournament in Tokyo. Rybakina decided to film, which can also be justified. Still, the BYE rule is really strange, as it infringes on the interests of some tennis players in favor of others.

The WTA should draw up a calendar so that everyone is on a level playing field, prepares normally for tournaments and BYE disappears on its own as it is unnecessary. Rybakina’s harsh management will clearly draw attention to this problem. Elena said that in the future she will continue to express doubts about the work of the WTA. The main thing is that everything is limited to useful constructive criticism and does not turn into a truly serious conflict.

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September 25, 2023 8:57 pm