‘I think it was disrespectful to him and to me’
Elena Rybakina hopes the controversy surrounding her coach Stefano Vukov has been put to bed, saying she is happy with his coaching methods.
Former professional player Vukov has been part of the world No 10’s coaching set-up since 2019 and last year all their hard work paid off when Rybakina became the first Kazakh player to win a Grand Slam when she lifted the Wimbledon title.
She then enjoyed another magical run at this year’s Australian Open as she finished runner-up to Aryna Sabalenka, but the journey was marred by comments about her coach.
Vukov was criticised for his behaviour during the semi-final win over Victoria Azarenka and he again came under fire during the final against Sabalenka with doubles legend and commentator Pam Shriver 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.”
The comments did not go down well with Rybakina as she issued a strong defence of her mentor on social media after the Melbourne Park final as she slammed the reports as “fake news”.
Her statement didn’t really put out all the fires as former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli also criticised Vukov, saying she had first-hand experience of his controversial coaching methods.
READ MORE: Marion Bartoli latest to criticise Elena Rybakina’s coach Stefano Vukov – ‘I just can’t take that any more’
However, Rybakina has reiterated her support for Vukov following her Indian Wells Open quarter-final win on Thursday.
“People don’t really know us that well and like to comment or say something that they don’t know,” she told Tennis Channel.
“It’s not their business at the end of the day. I think it was kind of disrespectful to him and to me.
“I just had to do it so everybody knows that whatever they can see or think, they don’t know us. Hopefully, we won’t get any other comments like these.”
Vukov was criticised for shouting and gesturing to Rybakina during matches, but when asked what she wants to hear from her coach when playing she replied: “It’s such slow conditions for me and difficult and I’m kind of stressed out on every point. Sometimes I can get mad also for no reason to tell something to my team, but hopefully they understand.
“I’m trying to focus on myself, sometimes it’s good, sometimes its not. So it’s just something between us but everything is good.”
READ MORE: Elena Rybakina explains why she publicly defended her coach Stefano Vukov after social media ‘mess’