Rybakina irked after losing her bye in Tokyo

After not receiving a bye at Tokyo, Elena Rybakina expressed frustration with the tour regarding the decision to give performance byes to two lower-ranked players.

Elena Rybakina, Roland-Garros 2023 AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Gaining respect for her outsized talents has been an issue for Elena Rybakina for quite some time. We saw her grow frustrated when relegated to outside courts at the US Open in 2022, just a month and a half after she became the Wimbledon champion.

“It’s (a) pity,” she said at the time. “I feel like actually I’m not the Wimbledon champion.”

This week that the fifth-ranked Kazakh is ticked off about losing her bye in Tokyo to two players who were granted performance byes.

Rybakina, the No 3 seed in the draw, will face tricky Czech Linda Noskova in the opening round, while two players ranked – and seeded – below her will receive byes into the round of 16.

No 4-seeded Maria Sakkari and No 5-seeded Caroline Garcia will receive those byes due to the fact that they reached the semi-finals this week in Guadalajara.

Rybakina took to Instagram to express her displeasure about what she called a surprise decision by the tour.

“Performance bye,” she wrote on Instagram, the words superimposed over a copy of the draw in bold black and white. “Thank you for changing the rules last moment… great decisions as always, WTA.”

It isn’t immediately clear if the rules really were changed in the last minute, or if the performance byes had been written into the rules long ago. Either way, the fact that Rybakina wasn’t aware of the decision hints at a lack of communication between the tour and its players.

Iga Swiatek, the top seed in Tokyo, and Jessica Pegula, the No 2 seed, are also receiving byes in the 28-player draw.

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