"You make me agree with Stefano Vukov of all people" - Fans react to Elena Rybakina's coach slamming WTA over Kazakh's Japan Open withdrawal

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina's coach Stefano Vukov has called out the WTA.

Tennis fans concurred with Elena Rybakina's coach, Stefano Vukov, after he criticized the WTA for its decision to award performance byes at the 2023 Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Japan, following the Kazakh's withdrawal from the tournament.

Rybakina withdrew from the WTA 500 event prior to her first-round match against Linda Noskova. Her pull-out sparked controversy as she had previously called out the WTA over not granting her a customary first-round bye despite her being the third seed.

Meanwhile, performance byes were awarded to the fourth and fifth seeds, Maria Sakkari and Caroline Garcia, based on their showing at the Guadalajara Open the previous week.

Following Elena Rybakina's withdrawal, her coach Stefano Vukov expressed confusion over the purpose of performance byes on social media.

"Just to make things clear, there is no explanation of what a performance bye is. What 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 posted on his Instagram story.

He criticized the WTA for its lack of transparency, highlighting that "the issue is always the same lack of communication." He also raised concerns about the organization's operational procedures, arguing that many top players were compelled to participate in tournaments under the threat of fines, despite already having qualified for the 2023 WTA Finals.

Several fans begrudgingly expressed their agreement with Elena Rybakina's coach, as Vukov had previously drawn criticism over his conduct during the Kazakh's matches, most recently at the 2023 US Open.

"See WTA, you make me agree with Vukov of all ppl. See how terrible you are ... i am in pain rn," one fan wrote.

Another fan defended Vukov, claiming that the WTA was "a total mess".

"Say whatever you want about him but he’s right. WTA is a total mess," the fan chimed in.

Other fans urged the Novak Djokovic-led PTPA to demonstrate their support and encouraged the 24-year to join the Serb's organization.

"It looks to me as if the WTA is even more corrupt than the ATP. Players need to revolt, join the PTPA, get proper representation," a fan shared.
"Can @ptpaplayers make a statement or something & when is Rybakina joining the organization?" a user posted.

Here are a few more fan reactions:

"The WTA topic is another topic, on which I have my opinions and will clearly voice them in future" - Elena Rybakina after Tokyo withdrawal

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina

Following her withdrawal from the WTA 500 event in Tokyo, Elena Rybakina clarified that she chose to pull out in order to prioritize her physical well-being.

"As a player I want to give my all on the court and at the moment my body is not ready to do that. That’s why I decided to listen to my body and withdraw from the tournament. I love Japan, my fans here are so unique and for that reason this is a tough decision," Elena Rybakina posted on her Instagram story.

However, the Kazakh also asserted that she will continue to express her opinions on the WTA in the future.

"The WTA topic is another topic, on which I have my opinions and will clearly voice them in future. To my fans, thank you for your support, I appreciate it very much,” she added.

Elena Rybakina is expected to be back in action at the 2023 China Open in Beijing. The WTA 1000 event is scheduled to commence on September 30.