Tennis is a very rhythm-based sport, meaning that it's not easy to pick it up after a long absence. No matter how good a tennis player is, if they don't prepare to a certain degree, they're going to struggle.
We've seen it many times over the years when players return from injuries. It takes them a while to find their best tennis. Rybakina didn't have a very good preparation for this season because she was actually sick prior to the season starting, which made her tremendous start rather surprising to her.
"I started [the season] well, which I didn’t expect because I had quite a short preparation and I was sick right before the tournament."
The Australian Open wasn't a very good experience for Rybakina who was beaten in the second round by Anna Blinkova in a crazy match that finished with a final-set tiebreak where the score was 22-20 for the Russian.
It was a hugely disappointing finish for the Kazakhstani player who had multiple match points in that match. On top of that, Rybakina revealed that she dealt with some sort of "issue" prior to the match.
"Then in Melbourne it was a tough first round and I had some issues after that match, which was a bit unlucky but that’s tennis. The season has only just started and there is still the whole year, so we will see how it goes."
She'll try to forget about it in Abu Dhabi this week after taking some time off to process that exit. It's an important season for Rybakina, who is quite a bit removed from her lone Grand Slam title, and it's time to prove that she can win a second one.