"The intention is nice, but poorly executed" - Tennis influencer Rachel Stuhlmann reacts to Elena Rybakina calling out WTA over Tokyo draw
Elena Rybakina received support from tennis influencer Rachel Stuhlmann after calling out the WTA over her draw for the 2023 Toray Pan Pacific Open.
The WTA 500 event in Tokyo, Japan is scheduled to commence on Monday, September 25. To reward players for strong performances in the week preceding the tournament, the Pan Pacific Open has inserted 'performance byes' in the main draw.
Top seed Iga Swiatek and second seed Jessica Pegula will receive a bye into the Round of 16, as per the usual rules. Additionally, fourth seed Maria Sakkari and fifth seed Caroline Garcia will also advance directly into the second round due to their performance at the Guadalajara Open.
Sakkari downed Garcia in the semifinals before beating Caroline Dolehide 7-5, 6-3 in the final to clinch her maiden WTA 1000 title.
Third seed Elena Rybakina will, meanwhile, commence her Tokyo campaign against Czech teenager Linda Noskova in the first round despite being seeded higher than both Sakkari and Garcia.
Following the release of the draw, Rybakina took to social media and expressed her displeasure regarding the WTA's decision-making process.
"Performance bye. Thank you for changing the rules last moment. Great decisions as always @wta 🤡🎪," Rybakina posted on her Instagram story.
Rachel Stuhlmann voiced her support for the Kazakh on social media. While Stuhlmann acknowledged that the idea of performance byes was well-intentioned, she criticized its execution.
Stuhlmann also argued that revoking Rybakina's rightfully earned bye was not the appropriate move.
"Wtf lol. The intention behind the idea of "performance bye" is nice, but poorly executed. Idk what the answer is, but it’s not taking the bye away from the # 3 seed (who earned the bye)," Stuhlmann posted.
Elena Rybakina leads 1-0 in her head-to-head against Linda Noskova, having beten the Czech teenager 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the 2023 French Open.
Elena Rybakina among first four players to qualify for 2023 WTA Finals
Elena Rybakina has claimed one of the eight coveted spots for the 2023 WTA Finals, scheduled to be held in Cancun, Mexico from October 29 to November 5. Rybakina is the first player ever from Kazakhstan to secure a place in the WTA Finals in singles.
The 24-year-old has achieved remarkable success this season, winning her first two WTA 1000 titles, in Indian Wells and Rome. She also reached her second Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, as well as another WTA 1000 final in Miami.
Furthermore, the Kazakh rose to a career-high ranking of World No. 3 earlier this year.
Elena Rybakina is fourth on the list of players who have qualified for the 2023 WTA Finals, with 5,476 points. She was preceeded by World No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka (8,210 points), Iga Swiatek (6,905) and Coco Gauff (5,620).