Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina might need to play qualifiers in stacked WTA 500 San Diego tournament

Day Thirteen: The Championships - Wimbledon 2022
Elena Rybakina celebrates her 2022 Wimbledon win

Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina finds herself on the list of alternates for the heavily loaded San Diego Open, a WTA 500 tournament to be held from October 10-16 in San Diego, USA.

This will be the inaugural edition of the $757,900 event and is the highest level of any tennis tournament to ever be organized in San Diego. The Barnes Tennis Center has also been hosting an ATP 250 event since last year.

With its placement in the tennis calendar ahead of the WTA Finals, scheduled to be held in Fort Worth, USA, from October 31-November 7, the San Diego competition has managed to attract the cream of the crop of women's tennis.

The tournament entry list with direct entrants into the main draw and alternates has just been released. Reigning French Open and US Open champion Iga Swiatek leads the field that has seven of the current top-10 stars, including US Open semifinalists Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia.

Major winners Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko have also made it to the main draw along with home hopes Coco Gauff, Danielle Collins and Madison Keys.

WTA500 San Diego entry list (main draw + alternates)

However, with the tournament having a 32-player singles draw, it has left many top talents on the list of alternates, meaning they can only progress into the main draw if someone pulls out.

Rybakina finds herself fifth on the alternates' list with Amanda Anisimova, Bianca Andreescu, Alison Riske-Amritraj, and Ekaterina Alexandrova ahead of her. This could give rise to a ridiculous situation where a reigning Slam winner might need to play the qualifying rounds in order to secure a berth in the San Diego main draw.

This has naturally invited comments from tennis fans on social media, with a Twitter handle calling Rybakina's situation a mess.

"The reigning Wimbledon champion is probably going to have to qualify. A mess," tweeted Tick Tock Tennis.
The reigning Wimbledon champion is probably going to have to qualify. A mess.…

"I don’t think that it’s fair" - Elena Rybakina on ranking points not being awarded for Wimbledon win

Elena Rybakina in action at the 2022 US Open
Elena Rybakina in action at the 2022 US Open

Despite winning her maiden Major title in July, Elena Rybakina didn't break through to the top-10 of the WTA rankings, a common occurence after winning a Slam. Instead she has now slid to 25th on the rankings ladder.

Kazakhstan's first-ever Major winner missed out on adding a staggering 2000 points to her kitty from her Wimbledon heroics that would have placed her comfortably in the Race to the WTA Finals.

This was due to the tournament's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players, after which the ATP and WTA decided to strip the grasscourt Slam of its ranking points.

Ahead of the US Open, the 23-year-old had expressed her frustration and unhappiness at the decision, admitting that "many players are paying for all these decisions."

“It was my dream to win Wimbledon,” Rybakina said. “It’s (a) pity. I feel like actually I’m not the Wimbledon champion.
“I don’t think that it’s fair," she added. "Of course, we cannot change it. It was a decision (made) before. I’m talking not only about myself, but just generally I think with all the decisions, many players are paying for all these decisions."

On the court, the Kazakh hasn't had the best run of form in the past few weeks. Struggling to find top gear since her Wimbledon breakthrough, Rybakina has won just six matches across five tournaments. Her US Open campaign turned out to be disastrous, with the 25th seed falling in the first round to Clara Burel.

Rybakina is currently in action at the ongoing WTA 250 event in Portoroz, Slovenia, where she has made the quarterfinals.

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Edited by Keshav Gopalan
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