"Not team Elena Rybakina being in their Maria Sharapova era & forgetting to read emails" - Fans react to Maria Sakkari's remarks on Tokyo draw dispute

Elena Rybakina (L) and Maria Sakkari (R)
Elena Rybakina (L) and Maria Sakkari (R)

Maria Sakkari countering Elena Rybakina and her coach Stefano Vukov's claims about the performance byes awarded at the 2023 Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo has elicited humorous reactions from tennis fans.

Prior to her withdrawal from the event in Tokyo, Rybakina criticized the WTA's decision to award performance byes to fourth seed Sakkari and fifth seed Caroline Garcia as it resulted in her losing her customary first-round bye as the third seed. The Kazkah particularly took issue with the WTA's "last-moment" decision.

"Performance bye. Thank you for changing the rules last moment. Great decisions as always @wta," Elena Rybakina posted on her Instagram story.

However, Maria Sakkari refuted Rybakina's claims, clarifying that the rule to award performance byes had been in effect for over a decade but was temporarily removed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is not a new rule, I think it has been in place for about 14 years, and that's actually the case. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this rule was temporarily removed. However, in the past, this performance bye was also used in Beijing," Sakkari said during a press conference. (via Tennis365).

The Greek also mentioned that the decision to grant performance byes at the WTA 500 event in Tokyo had been communicated to the players five months in advance.

"We have already been aware of the fact that there will be a performance bye since the tournament will be held from Mexico to Tokyo for about 5 months. I was informed that performance byes are also applied when traveling from Tokyo to Beijing," she added.

In light of Sakkari's revelation, several fans ridiculed Elena Rybakina and her coach, Stefano Vukov, for their criticism of the WTA. They particulary mocked Vukov for his lengthy statement condeming the organization.

"Vukov was really doing all that tussling on here for nothing ijbol," a fan commented.
"Rybakina and her team looking ridiculous rn," another fan chimed in.

Other fans poked fun at the 24-year-old and her team for supposedly neglecting to read their emails.

"Not team Rybakina being in their Sharapova era and forgetting to read her emails," a fan posted.
"Well, looks like Rybakina's team really doesn't read mails or take part in meetings," another fan shared.

Here are a few more fan reactions:

Caroline Garcia joins Maria Sakkari in refuting Elena Rybakina's claims amid Tokyo draw controversy

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina

Caroline Garcia, the other beneficiary of the performance byes, joined Maria Sakkari in countering Elena Rybakina's claim.

The Frenchwoman emphasized the importance of performance byes for herself and Sakkari, given their participation in the Guadalajara Open and the significant time difference between Japan and Mexico.

"It's a really long journey from Mexico to Japan, and considering the time difference, you'll lose two days. I think this rule is necessary because we have to continue playing under such circumstances. In the past, it was also adopted in Beijing and Wuhan," Garcia said.

Garcia also corroborated Sakkari's comments, confirming that players had been notified of the decision to award performance byes well in advance.

"We knew in advance that there would be a performance bye at this tournament. We were informed of this, and I think this is important in order to maintain our rhythm," she added.

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Edited by Urvi Mehra
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