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Coco Gauff has jumped to defend Elena Rybakina after she blasted the WTA’s scheduling. The American tennis star agrees that tournaments “have to do better” in order to protect players from injury and fatigue.
Rybakina’s comments came following her semifinal defeat to Liudmila Samsonova at the Canadian Open. The 24-year-old was seen wearing a shoulder strap during the 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 loss which was delayed due to rain.
Following the result, which ended at 3 a.m. ET, the five-time title winner blamed her injury on the hectic schedule and hit out at the WTA. “Yeah, definitely I feel destroyed just because of the scheduling and the whole situation. I’m not really happy about it, but yeah, it is what it is,” she said.
Rybakina later added that she had barely slept ahead of the game, something which Coco Gauff sympathized with. Following her straight-sets win over Linda Noskova in the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Open, the 19-year-old jumped to defend Rybakina’s comments.
“Rybakina’s match, she finished at 3 a.m., which is insane,” Gauff said. “She’s right. It does set you up for a terrible week. I do think some of the tournaments, especially the one-week tournaments where there’s not that extra day, have to do better.”
Gauff went on to add that ultimately the scheduling conflicts are out of players’ hands. “Unfortunately, I think Elena and Iga [Swiatek] said the same, there’s not much the players can do in that situation. We can fight,” she said.
“For me, when I had that night match against Marketa [Vondrousova] and that was because of the rain, I really fought for the not-before 2 a.m. time, that saved me the extra 30 minutes in the morning which means a lot in sleeping terms.
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“It’s tough, because, you know, the tournament is trying to work with TV, and TV is working. There is a lot of things people don’t realize. It’s not as easy as just saying, ‘Let’s move all the matches up,’ because we still have to sell our sport.”
Gauff and Rybakina aren’t the only players who have taken umbrage with the scheduling conflicts in recent weeks. World No. 1 Swiatek has also made her feelings clear, claiming that tennis authorities should “focus more on what is healthy for players.”
Rybakina lost at the Western and Southern Open to Jasmine Paolini in the Round of 16. Gauff has since progressed to the final after defeating Swiatek. The American will face either Karolína Muchová or Aryna Sabalenka on Sunday, Aug. 20.
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