Tennis fans have reacted to Maria Sakkari's comments regarding performance byes at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. This came after Elena Rybakina criticized the WTA's use of them and withdrew from the tournament.
The WTA 500 event is taking place at the Ariake Coliseum until October 1, with the top two seeds Iga Swiatek and Jessica Pegula receiving byes in the first round as is customary. However, things were slightly different when it came to third seed Rybakina, who many were expecting to also get a bye.
Instead, the WTA revealed that it was trialing performance byes at the event which went to World No. 6 Sakkari and World No. 10 Caroline Garcia due to them only having had a few days between finishing their run at the Guadalajara Open in Mexico and the start of the tournament in Japan. Meanwhile, the 2022 Wimbledon champion was left to face Linda Noskova in the opening round before she withdrew altogether.
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Fans react with amusement to confusing situation
While Rybakina and her coach Stefano Vukov called out the use of performance byes, criticizing the WTA for "changing the rules last moment," Sakkari and Garcia both insisted that players were informed about the rules well in advance.
"This is not a new rule, I think it has been in place for about 14 years, and that's actually the case. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this rule was temporarily removed. However, in the past, this performance bye was also used in Beijing," Sakkari said during her press conference.
As a result, fans have taken to social media to share their amused reactions to the contradictory statements, with some accusing Rybakina's team of not checking their e-mails properly as some said that the performance byes had been in the rule book for five months.
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"Rybakina and her team looking ridiculous rn," commented one.
"Not team Rybakina being in their Sharapova era and forgetting to read her emails," added another.
"Well, looks like Rybakina's team really doesn't read mails or take part in meetings," wrote a third.
"It’s been shared on this app that this things had been in the rule book for months," another chimed in.