April 11, 2024

Open Court


Rybakina out, not gone in SD (video)

SAN DIEGO, Calif – One of the first-round matches at the San Diego Open this week was supposed to feature two Grand Slam champions squaring off.

Except Elena Rybakina didn’t make the date.

(Garbiñe Muguruza, who did, lasted five games against lucky loser Zheng Qinwen. But that’s another tale …)

The 23-year-old Russian who represents Kazakhstan withdrew after the draw was made, having made the long trip from Ostrava to San Diego.

The official reason was “illness” – which these days, being as vague as it is, has sometimes meant the player tested positive for COVID.

(Muguruza’s reason for her retirement against Zheng was the more specific “gastrointestinal illness”).

Luckily, that must not have been the case. Because Rybakina was on site the next day, looking more or less like her usual self in a spirited practice session with doubles specialist Lyudmyla Kichenok.

(Yes, that was a Russian and a Ukrainian player hitting together – a noteworthy thing these days).

Here’s what it looked like.

We’re certainly not here to cast doubt on anyone being sick, so far away from home. Only pointing out that luckily for her, whatever it was seems to have resolved itself.

Not that the 470 points for winning this tournament wouldn’t have come in handy.

As crazy as it sounds, Rybakina currently sits at No. 21 in the race to the WTA Tour Finals in Texas.

But if she could win it – and she’s more than capable of it – she’d have a shot at actually … qualifying. Depending, of course, on what other players do. But some points from San Diego would have helped her cause tremendously.

More crazy: if Rybakina could have banked the 2,000 points from winning Wimbledon – as she should have – she’d sit at No. 3 right behind Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur and already would have qualified for Fort Worth.

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