Rybakina takes aim at coach critics with ‘stay in their place’ comment

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Elena Rybakina has been forced to hit out at critics of her coach once again after some claimed that the world No 10 should get rid of her coach Stefano Vukov after believing he spoke to her badly. The Kazakh has now shut down their claims and asked everyone to “stay in their place”.

Rybakina was forced to post a statement to defend her coach just one day after reaching her second Grand Slam final at the Australian Open. It came after former world No 3 Pam Shriver called on the 23-year-old to axe her mentor, tweeting: “As I watch Rybakina try to win her second major in 7 months, I hope she finds a coach who speaks and treats her with respect at ALL times and does not ever accept anything less.”

Although the Wimbledon winner defended Vukov, another former champion at the All England Club spoke out and said she agreed with Shriver, as Marion Bartoli later told the Match Points podcast: “The way Rybakina’s coach is talking to Rybakina on the court is just not something I can accept.”

And the world No 10 has now addressed the comments for a second time, doubling-down on her initial statement as she claimed the critics didn’t know her or Vukov well enough to understand their relationship or make any remarks. “Unfortunately, the internet is a big thing and someone can make a comment without thinking and then people just pick it up and make a mess,” Rybakina told Eurosport.

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She then told the critics that they should and confronted her if they thought she was being treated badly by her coach, continuing: “A few people made some comments; they don’t know me at all, and they don’t know my team, which I was really surprised by because if there are any problems, you can always come and talk with me directly.”

Explaining why she felt forced to issue a statement, Rybakina shut down those who condemned her coach and added: “But people decided to post it on the internet so I kind of showed the reality, that everything is fine and everybody needs to stay in their places and not mix up.”

The recent Australian Open runner-up also explained how Vukov was able to give her the energy and fire she needed on a tennis court when she was feeling flat mid-match. “If you see me just like on the court, you don’t know what’s happening around and it’s quite a lot,” Rybakina said.

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Even if I look calm, of course, I always talk with my coach, it’s just not the moment, of course during a match I will just listen. Sometimes I really need energy because I’m quite calm and I can be so much thinking about myself, and focusing on myself during the match, so I need something quick to understand what’s happening around.

“He helps me a lot. We have open dialogues, and we’ve worked already for four years. Sometimes I have bad days but people might not see it. And of course, when we work on the court I respect him a lot, I’m trying to listen and get all the information I can.”

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