The debate around performance byes kicked off last week when Elena Rybakina criticized the WTA's use of them at the Toray Pan Pacific Open. This came after the World No. 5 was told she had to play in the first round despite being one of the top-seeded players at the event, with the performance byes going to No. 6 Maria Sakkari and No. 10 Caroline Garcia instead.
Rybakina expressed her displeasure on social media before withdrawing from the tournament, citing health reasons.
"Performance bye. Thank you for changing the rules at the last moment. Great decisions as always @wta," she wrote on her Instagram story. However, Sakkari and Garcia both insisted that the performance byes were known about in advance.
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Swiatek supports performance byes
World No. 2 Swiatek received a bye in the first round in Tokyo and is now competing along with the aforementioned players at the WTA 1000 China Open. Following her straight-sets win over Sara Sorribes Tomo in the opening round, the four-time Grand Slam champion was asked for her thoughts on performance byes.
"I didn’t really dig into this rule so much because these are the first tournaments that I’m playing where it’s possible to get this kind of thing. But it’s been on tour for a long time.
"I think it’s smart because usually when I had tournaments that I played till the end, I know how it is to rush to another tournament and not have time to rest and prepare. So I think that rule is fine. I think that rule makes sense.
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Swiatek added that it didn't matter to her if she played one more match at a tournament.
"I just want to focus on myself. For me, doesn’t matter if I’m going to play one more match. It’s another opportunity for me to kind of win and to play. So it doesn’t matter to me if I play another match or not."