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Elena Rybakina: Stop criticizing my coach for yelling at me

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Elena Rybakina, the Wimbledon champion, has defended her coach Stefano Vukov after he was criticized for being too aggressive during her run-up to the Australian Open final.

Kazakhstan’s Rybakina, who lost to Aryna Sabalenka in three sets on Saturday, felt compelled to speak out after criticism of her coach from Pam Shriver, the great American.

Coaching was allowed for the first time at the Australian Open this year and Vukov, who has been with Rybakina since 2019, took full advantage of it: shouting instructions from the stands and reacting negatively when she was struggling, particularly in the semifinals against Victoria Azarenka.

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During Saturday’s finals in Melbourne, Shriver tweeted, “As I watch Rybakina try to win her second major in 7 months, I hope she finds a coach who speaks up at all times and treats her with respect and never accepts anything less.”

Rybakina, 23, took to Instagram to shout what she described as “misinterpretations” and “fake news”.

“After a great AO, I have seen some disturbing comments on social media about the behavior of my coach Stefano Vukov,” Rybakina wrote, alongside a photo of her and Vukov shaking hands. “I want to clear up any misinterpretations. Stefano believed in me for many years before anyone else did. Together we strategized how I could achieve great things and his method is reflected in my Grand Slam success so far.

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“He is a passionate coach, with a lot of knowledge about tennis. Unlike people who make these comments, he has a lot of knowledge about me as a person and as an athlete.

“Those who know me well will know that I would never accept a coach who disrespected me and all our hard work. I may be quiet on the court and in general, but inside me is a competitive athlete who wants big things reaches.” things and Stefano helped me a lot in this way. So please ignore any fake news to the contrary.”

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Coaching Rybakina for nearly four years, Vukov helped her rise from world No. 175 at the start of 2019 to one of the best players on the tour, including winning a shock first major title at Wimbledon last summer.