The Japan Open commences on October 25th and will run till September 1st. But the draw has certainly caused a stir, with the WTA confirming that it will be trialing performance byes at the tournament, which will be handed out to the fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari and fifth-seeded Caroline Garcia.
Normally, at WTA 500 level tournaments, the top four seeds at the tournament receive a first-round bye - meaning that their campaign will officially kick off a round late. In this case, Iga Swiatek, Jessica Pegula, Elena Rybakina, and Maria Sakkari would be the beneficiaries.
But based on the performances of Sakkari and Garcia in Guadalajara - who both went deep - the WTA leadership team introduced a slightly modified version of giving players a free pass. That meant the Greek player, who ended up winning the first WTA 1000 of her career, and the French player, who reached the semifinal, qualified for the performance bye.
This was meant to give them additional travel time to fly to Tokyo and have a Wednesday start at the earliest for their first matches. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of Rybakina, who despite being the third seed at the event will have to play a first-round match at the tournament.
Rybakina has since commented on her disapproval on Instagram where she was perplexed to learn of performance byes being introduced at the 11th hour and put a capstone to her statement with a sarcastic clap directed at the WTA.
The Kazakh will therefore take to the courts at the Ariake Coliseum on Monday, facing the unseeded Czech teenager Linda Noskova. She has won two titles this year, the last of which came in May. Let's see if she'll take out her disappointment of being snubbed for a bye by winning her opening match.
"Performance bye. Thank you for changing the rules last moment. Great decisions as always @wta."