Elena Rybakina has achieved plenty of milestones in her career within the past 12 months.
It was last July when she stunned the women’s Tour by claiming her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon by defeating Ons Jabeur in the final. Until that event, Rybakina had only ever won two WTA 250 trophies. Since then, she has made steady progress on the Tour by reaching her second major final at the Australian Open in January where she finished runner-up to Aryna Sabalenka.
Rybakina’s latest achievement occurred at Indian Wells where she claimed her maiden WTA 1000 title. In the final, she managed to get her own back on Sabalenka by defeating the Belarussian for the first time in her professional career. At the tournament, she also dismissed top seed Iga Swiatek in the semi-finals. The 23-year-old is the first player in Indian Wells history to have defeated both the world No.1 and world No.2 within the same draw.
“I didn’t think about this, but good stat. I don’t know what to say,” Rybakina replied when told about the record.
“When I come to play against anyone I try not to think about their ranking. I just want to do my best.”
As a result of her latest victory, Rybakina has risen to a career-high of seventh in the world. Although she would likely have reached this position weeks ago if points were awarded at Wimbledon last year. Wimbledon lost the ability to do so following their decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from participating. Ironically, Rybakina was born in the Russian capital of Moscow but became a Kazakh citizen in 2018.
Whilst satisfied with her current form, the new world No.7 is eager to climb further up the rankings to achieve the biggest goal of her career – becoming world No.1.
“I think the biggest goal is of course to be No 1,” she said. “There is still a long way to go. So this is kind of the end goal, I would say.
“For now I’m 7, but you know how quickly the ranking (can) change. So I need to always focus on the next tournament I play.”
At present Swiatek maintains a stronghold on the No.1 spot and has over 3000 points more than any other player on the Tour. On the other hand, Rybakina is ahead of the Pole in the singles race which takes into account players’ results over the past 52 weeks. At the end of the season, the top eight in the race qualify for the WTA Finals.
“It’s just the beginning of the year, so there are still many tournaments ahead. It doesn’t mean anything at the beginning, I think,” Rybakina commented on the race.
Rybakina will return to action later this week at the Miami Open where she will be aiming to improve on her run to the third round of the tournament last year.
Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette
China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player.
The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.
“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying.
Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.
20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina.
Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.
“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”
It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing.
Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open
Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat.
The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory.
Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.
“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added.
Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose
After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open.
The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall.
“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”
Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament.
Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.
Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”
It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.
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