Elena Rybakina Withdraws From Japan Open After Bye Snub Controversy

Elena Rybakina Withdraws From Japan Open After Bye Snub Controversy

by Erik Virostko

Elena Rybakina withdrew from the 2023 Japan Open, a WTA 500 tournament held in Tokyo, following a previous bye controversy.

As the third seed in the Japan Open draw, Rybakina expected to receive a bye in the first round of the competition, but she didn't because of the WTA trialing performance byes. That meant that the byes were awarded to the fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari and the fifth-seeded Caroline Garcia, leaving the Kazkahstani player with a first-round match against Linda Noskova.

Rybakina wasn't happy about it, and the reaction from the public, but also other tennis players have been mixed. On one side, former player Rennae Stubbs supported her, while on the other hand, WTA doubles player, Nicole Melichar, who is set to compete in doubles in Tokyo, said that the information about the performance byes was stated on the fact sheet.

And now we probably know the reason why Rybakina wanted a first-round bye, as the world no. 5 in the WTA Rankings withdrew from the 2023 Japan Open in Tokyo, for yet-to-be-disclosed reasons.

The most probable situation is that Rybakina was battling with some kind of minor injury or health problem, which is why she needed one or two extra days to recover and show her best tennis at the WTA 500 event.

But without a bye in the first round, the Kazakhstani player had to play much sooner than she expected, meaning that she wouldn't be fit yet. Also, there's a chance that the third seed could possibly protest performance byes, but that's only a speculation.

While Rybakina's withdrawal is certainly disappointing for her fans, and also fans in Tokyo, some have a reason to be happy such as the home player Himeno Sakatsume, who made it to the main draw instead of the third seed, setting up a first-round clash with Linda Noskova.


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