"I don't think it looks good for the World No. 1 not to have a bye" - Elena Rybakina reiterates stance on performance byes
Elena Rybakina has once again expressed her displeasure at not getting a bye at the 2023 Toray Pan Pacific Open in Japan.
When the draw for the WTA 500 tournament was made public, World No. 2 Iga Swiatek got a bye in the first round, as is the case for top-seeded players. Third seed Rybakina, however, did not receive the same privilege and was scheduled to face Linda Noskova in the first round.
This was because Maria Sakkari and Caroline Garcia, two players ranked and seeded lower than the former Wimbledon Champion, received byes in the first round due to their exploits at the Guadalajara Open.
Sakkari and Garcia were handed performance byes, which is a type of bye awarded to players for notable performances in the week preceding a tournament.
Rybakina criticized the WTA for introducing the concept of performance byes and later pulled out of the Pan Pacific Open. The World No. 5, who is currently taking part in the China Open, has once again spoken about her disappointment at the WTA using performance byes in Japan.
"In Tokyo, I was not happy. They did not inform me about the performance bye. What was written on the information sheet and everywhere is that in Tokyo there would be between four and six performance byes, what she did not explain was whether they would add two additional byes or remove one. Here the rule is a little different and it was explained a little better," she said (via puntodebreak).
Rybakina further questioned why the rule was used only at the end of the season and stated that players need to be consulted before such decisions are taken.
"I don't think it would be good to put this rule only at the end of the season because we had many events like this. I don't think it looks good that the World No. 1 does not have a bye," she said.
"This is something to discuss with the players and see how it is going to be the rule in the future because it has not been fulfilled for four years, and that is why many players, especially young players, did not know it. It is not that difficult to explain how it is going to work, that is why many players are not happy,” Rybakina added.
Elena Rybakina defeats Zheng Qinwen, reaches China Open 2R
Elena Rybakina made her China Open debut on Monday, October 2, with a win against Zheng Qinwen in the opening round.
The Kazakh defeated the home favorite 6-1, 6-2 in one hour to book her place in the second round. While the Chinese No. 1 hit twice as many winners as Rybakina (14-7), she also registered 16 unforced errors while the World No. 5 only had four.
It was Rybakina's 24th win at a WTA 1000 event this season, which is more than any other player on the tour has achieved. The 24-year-old has won two titles this year, with both coming at WTA 1000 events - in Indian Wells and Rome.
Rybakina will next face Tatjana Maria, who defeated Martina Trevisan 6-3, 7-6(2) in her first-round contest at the China Open.