Next stop for Elena Rybakina: world No 1

With the confidence of winning Wimbledon, the Kazakh has her sights set on more majors and top spot

Elena Rybakina, Wimbledon 2022 Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina celebrates with the trophy after winning the women’s singles final against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur at Wimbledon 2022 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Now Wimbledon’s in the bag, what’s next for Elena Rybakina? Well, having won a Grand Slam title and made history for her country, the Kazakh has earned herself a rest.

But when the elation eases and the realisation of what she’s achieved sinks in, she’ll start to think of what’s next. It’s what all champions do.

With her powerful game, built around her huge serve and big groundstrokes, Rybakina has the tools to succeed all around the world.

And now she knows what the pressure of such a big occasion feels like, she will be able to handle it even better than she did against Ons Jabeur, when she came from a set down to become the first Kazakh to win a slam title.

Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina, Wimbledon 2022
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur reacts during the women’s singles final against Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

“I think for sure, if I’m going to be able to go far in the other Grand Slams, I know already the road,” she said. “I know how stressful it can be. But I think, of course, it’s just experience. Next time I will approach it different.”

Coach Vukov: “Now we have very open possibilities”

It will take a little time to come down from the high of winning Wimbledon, of course, but once she does, she will focus on what’s next. According to her coach, Stefano Vukov, she can go right to the very top.

“Nowadays? Yes, absolutely, absolutely,” he said, when asked if she can be world No 1.

“I was very surprised with Ashleigh Barty’s retirement. “I mean, that was the person I was aiming to study more a little bit this year. But now we have very open possibilities.”

Had Wimbledon carried its usual ranking points – they were removed by the ATP and WTA because of its ban on Russian and Belarusian players – Rybakina would have climbed from her current ranking of No 23 to well inside the top 10.

Points come and go, Grand Slams stay forever

Stefano Vukov, Elena Rybalina’s coach
Elena Rybakina in her coach Stefano Vukov's arms, Wimbledon 2022
Elena Rybakina in her coach Stefano Vukov’s arms, Wimbledon 2022 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

“I think she would have been number two on the (calendar-year) Race as of today,” Vukov said. “Theoretically she deserves it but we’re still playing as 23 in the world, so we’ve got to go back, unfortunately. The schedule becomes, again, very tough because you got to go and play more tournaments and, you know, less time to prepare to try to chase the finals for this year.

“She would have been seven in the world, with nothing to defend… so it would have a guaranteed (WTA) Finals (place) already this year. So we’ll see what’s next.”

Rybakina beat two former Grand Slam champion, Andreescu and Halep

Rybakina beat two former slam champions in Bianca Andreescu and Simona Halep before taking down Jabeur in the final. Points or no points, the confidence that will give her could see her make big strides in the coming months.

“We were joking around always saying: “points come and go, grand slams stay forever,” Vukov said. “So, you know, it’s just a matter of time. The level is there”

Rybakina’s game good on all surfaces

And Vukov believes she can perform on every surface.

“Her game is built for grass, I think, but she’s very versatile because first WTA we won together was on clay. Second one was in Hobart on hard. Finals in Dubai on hard courts, quarter-finals at French Open, won Wimbledon. Made quite a lot of finals in the hardcourt events in 500s, like Dubai and St Petersburg.

“She’s done well on all surfaces there’s not really one surface that that she cannot take advantage of.”

World No 1 Iga Swiatek, who posted a photo of herself watching the final and congratulated Rybakina on her victory, may just have another rival on her hands.

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