Stefano Vukov is the current coach of Elena Rybakina. But Vukov has come under fire recently for his behavior and gestures during the Australian Open.
Rybakina reached her second Grand Slam final at Melbourne Park this week. While she gained a lot of praise for her performance, her coach received a lot of flak for his approach.
Vukov appeared to repeatedly shout at the 23-year-old during her semifinal against Victoria Azarenka. He acted in a similar manner during Rybakina's final against Aryna Sabalenka, which propelled a strong reaction from former doubles World No. 1 Pam Shriver.
The 60-year-old took to Twitter and claimed that she hoped Rybakina would find a coach who would treat her with respect.
"As I watch Rybakina try to win her second major in 7 months, I hope she finds a coach who speaks and treats her with respect at ALL times and does not ever accept anything less," Pam Shriver tweeted.
Before coaching Elena Rybakina, Stefano Vukov was a tennis player himself. Born in Croatia in 1987, Vukov played several tournaments on the ITF circuit and attained a career-high singles ranking of 1,122 in April 2007.
His best doubles ranking was 621st, which he attained in February 2007.
Vukov won only 12 singles matches during his career, six of which came on clay and five on hardcourt.
The Croat became Elena Rybakina's coach in 2019, replacing Andrei Chesnokov. Under his tutelage, the Kazakh won her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year and reached the Australian Open 2023 final, losing 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Aryna Sabalenka.
Rybakina's performances in Melbourne will see her debut in the top 10 of the WTA rankings.
"I have to scream out something if she's off track" - Stefano Vukov on shouting at Elena Rybakina
While speaking to reporters on Friday, Vukov was asked about his screams at Rybakina during her semifinal against Azarenka. The 35-year-old defended himself, stating that he needed to shout at the Wimbledon champion whenever she looked off track.
"I mean, first of all, I think that like it's easy to just, you know, take clips and then make something controversial. I mean, this is part of our sport. It's normal, you know. As coaching, you know, there is 10,000 people out there. To get attention of the player is definitely not easy. People don't understand that," Vukov said.
"I have to scream out something if she's off track. Then people can interpret this how they want. But at the end of the day, we are just doing our job. Coaching is now allowed, and I think she's using it in the best possible way," he added.