Elena Rybakina made plenty of headlines recently, but not for her tennis, which is what she's mostly known for.
It was kind of related to tennis, though, as the Kazakhstani was at the centre of the performance bye controversy from a few days ago. Despite being one of the top seeds, Rybakina didn't get a first-round bye at the WTA 500 event in Tokyo, because it went to other players.
She was not happy about it and blasted the WTA for changing the rules so close to the event, but her claims were refuted by other players who pointed out that it was readily available information. She knew that performance byes were in place, or rather she should have been aware of it.
According to fellow players, it wasn't any sudden rule change as she claimed it was. Ultimately, it didn't matter because she pulled out not long after that, which created further controversy. Some wondered whether that controversy had anything to do with that, but apparently, it didn't.
Now in Beijing, ahead of the 2023 China Open, Rybakina spoke about the withdrawal admitting that she rushed back too quickly after being sick in New York. As she pointed out, nobody even knew she was sick.
Well, for sure I'm focusing now just to play a little bit more matches because unfortunately I got sick again, and maybe no one knew it. Yeah, in New York was tough for me. After that, it was couple of weeks to recover. That's why now coming even to Tokyo, it was not the best for me maybe to play there. Yeah, now I'm just looking to play some matches. Of course, all the focus is going to the WTA Finals.
We'll see in what shape the Kazakhstani player will be for the upcoming event and whether she made any progress from last week. It's a big one with plenty of points up for grabs, though it's not essential for her because she's already secured her spot at the 2023 WTA Finals in Cancun.