The Asian swing is back on tour for the first time since 2019. Only three events are left on the WTA tour in Asia. The players are back on duty after the US Open, as few players chose to rest for a few weeks. The rules and regulations are different in the region, and the players are finding it hard to adjust. Aryna Sabalenka spoke about accepting the changes at the China Open.
The usual rule is that the top players at the event are given byes in the opening matches. But at the Japan Open and the China Open, the top players did not get that luxury. Sabalenka had to play the opening match at the event despite being the top player in the world. The event organizers had mentioned last week that byes would be given to players on their performances in the previous event.
Aryna Sabalenka says she does not agree with performance byes:
“I knew because they sent an email before, everyone knew about the performance bye, but I didn’t understand it. I do not understand that. Players who have byes for having played semi-finals in a lower tournament… pic.twitter.com/yA8G7uDc29
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) October 1, 2023
So, players who reached the semifinals at the Japan Open received byes at the China Open. Sabalenka had not played since the US Open, so she was not eligible for a bye in the first match. The world No.1 said, “I think you have to earn those byes. You have to do it for the consistency of your game, not just for playing well in a tournament, so you get this advantage.” Elena Rybakina also had problems with the rule.
Elena Rybakina speaks against organizers during the Japan Open and China Open
There were a few players and fans who could not understand the rules at the Japan and China Open. Rybakina had not played a match since losing in the third round at the US Open. She was expected to play in the Japan Open and was the third seed at the event. The world No.5 was supposed to receive a bye in the event as usual but was surprised to hear that she would have to play the first match.
The 24-year-old eventually withdrew from the event due to physical issues. Rybakina’s first-round bye was canceled as Maria Sakkari and Caroline Garcia performed well in Mexico. Sakkari won the title while Garcia reached the semifinal, which made them eligible for the bye at the Japan Open. The Kazakhstani player mentioned that she was not informed prior about the rule.
Elena Rybakina’s coach, Stefano Vukov, vents his frustration about the performance byes in Tokyo:
“Just to make things clear, there is no explanation of what a performance bye is. What does this mean? Do we add byes to help performing players? Or do we take away ranking earned… pic.twitter.com/lWdMAqu6fS
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) September 25, 2023
Rybakina will have to focus on the matches rather than getting a bye in the first match. She has played 54 matches this season and was going to play her first match in three weeks. The events already have fewer matches as compared to other events, but she still had to stress on the bye in the first match. Sabalenka did complain about it but showed up and is now in the second round at the China Open.