World No.5, Elena Rybakina took to the internet to inform tennis fans about her decision to withdraw from the WTA 500 event scheduled in Tokyo next week. This recent announcement came in after the player lashed out at the WTA days ago over the reintroduction of performance byes. The Kazakh top seed’s coach, Stefano Vukov, joined her in bashing the WTA after she revealed that she won’t be playing in Japan.
The former Wimbledon champ pulled out of the upcoming tournament in Japan as she started feeling a need to “prioritize her health and fitness” first. “I was really looking forward to playing the event and I love the city. I have to prioritise my health and fitness and need time to get to 100 per cent health,” she revealed in a statement on social media.
The 28-year-old’s coach took to his social media to publish a big statement critiquing the WTA’s decision. “Just to make things clear, there is no explanation of what a performance bye is. What does does this mean? Do we add byes to help performing players? Or do we take away ranking earned byes? And isn’t ranking itself a sign of performance?,” Vukov questioned.
“Last year we came from a final in Europe and played in Japan 2 days later and performance byes were no where to be found,” Vukov claimed in reference to an incident in 2022. Rybakina competed in the first round of the Tokyo Open last year after she had returned from playing the finals at the Portoroz Open in Slovenia mere days back. He further bashed the WTA for its poor communication with the players.
Speaking about the upcoming tournaments, Vukov argued that even though most players have qualified for the final 8, they have to compete in most tournaments or they run the risk of being charged a fine for no participation.
“Players always pay the consequences. The system doesn’t work. The marketing is terrible,” the 36-year-old further bashed the WTA. He further urged the WTA to be more transparent. “All players need to understand what is going on. Stop blaming players for mistakes made by the system itself,” he added.
What are ‘performance byes’ and how did they wrong Elena Rybakina
The WTA recently decided to restore the system of ‘performance byes’ in the upcoming tournaments. Performance byes permit players who have recently played at the second round of a tournament the previous week, a ‘direct entry’ into the next event, allowing them to skip round(s). This is done so that the players get a bit more time to travel and recoup.
However, in the upcoming event in Tokyo, the Kazakh was disappointed to find out that she would have to play the first round, while players ranked lower than her were granted ‘performance byes’. The WTA chose to grant fourth and fifth seeds,Carolina Garcia and Maria Sakkari performance byes instead of giving it to Rybakina, who is ranked higher than the two.
Expressing her rage at the results of the draw, the 24-year-old took to Instagram to call out the Women’s Tennis Association. “Performance bye, thank you for changing the rules last moment. Great decisions as always WTA,“ she wrote on her Instagram in a caption accompanied by emoticons.
Eeshita Dev is an aspiring sports content writer. She loves writing and keeping herself updated on Tennis, NBA, Formula One(occasionally)and of course Cricket! She is currently pursuing her major in Mathematics. The combination of the two is rarely ever boring.
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