Performance byes got to be one of the most controversial topics on the WTA Tour right now. They became prominent last week when Elena Rybakina accused the WTA of changing the rules at the last minute, which created a sequence of events.
Her coach defended her comments, explaining that players are the least to blame after she caught criticism for withdrawing from the event. Many assumed she withdrew because she had to play a round one thanks to the performance byes, which went to other players.
Her 'new rule' claims were refuted by several players who said that performance byes were a thing in the past and players were notified of it which kind of makes sense because it's something that has pretty big ramifications on the draw.
That's certainly the case for this week's upcoming China Open in Beijing, a WTA 1000 event with one of the strongest draws of the year. Some prominent players like Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka were supposed to have bye's but won't because of the performance bye rule.
Players who will get it at this upcoming event are Veronika Kudermetova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Jessica Pegula, and Maria Sakkari. The reason is simple. They were all semi-finalists the previous week at the Japan Open, for which they will be rewarded with one less match.
In theory, it makes sense because it reduces the chances of big-name players withdrawing from an event due to fatigue, but Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, and Iga Swiatek are certainly not happy with it, especially with some of the draws they got.
Sabalenka faces an in-form Sofia Kenin, Gauff plays an in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova and Swiatek will take on Sara Sorribes Tormo. None of those matchups would have happened without the performance byes.