Elena Rybakina bluntly tells why new two-week format is 'boring'

Rybakina continues her criticism of two-week formats in Madrid and Rome.

by Dzevad Mesic
Elena Rybakina bluntly tells why new two-week format is 'boring'
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Elena Rybakina has backed up her previous claims about the new two-week format introduced in Madrid and Rome as the Kazakh pretty directly said that staying for two weeks at these tournaments can become "boring" for players. 

While in the midst of a promising Madrid Open run, world No. 4 Rybakina issued some harsh criticism on a two-week format used at the WTA 1000 clay tournaments and she provided a detailed explanation at Caja Magica when making her position clear. 

After pretty much saying in Madrid that all of this was uneccessary and that it wasn't benefiting the players at all, Rybakina was asked at the start of this week's Rome Open if she sometimes gets the feeling that these two tournaments are "too long." Answering the question, the 2022 Wimbledon champion was dead honest.

"I would say it's long because it's kind of boring to stay also, like you do your routines, then it's becoming a bit boring to really stay too long in these tournaments. I don't know," Rybakina said.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

What did Rybakina exactly say in Madrid?

For many years, Indian Wells and Miami have been two-week WTA 1000 tournaments. And just before Rybakina was about to start criticizing introducing a two-week format in Madrid and Rome, she underlined that she didn't feel the same about a two-week format used during the Sunshine Double.

“I think like it was before if we have two weeks' tournament, Indian Wells, Miami, it's fine, but to make these tournaments like Madrid and Rome also long, and then you have French Open, it's kind of big events," Rybakina said.

Then, Rybakina explained why using a two-week format in Madrid and Rome just before a Grand Slam isn't probably the best idea. When making her point clear, Rybakina bluntly told the WTA that she felt they were "going in an opposite direction" as a game. 

"With the new rule of change, we have a lot of mandatory stuff where you cannot really choose and pick what you want to play, because, I mean, at some point it's fair enough that people choose what they want to play or not, because if the tour is good for everyone, then people will want to play," Rybakina said.

"But now we’re kind of in an opposite direction where we have to, because everyone is chasing ranking and everyone is chasing some points and so on. But if it would be open for everyone, then it's kind of fair enough. You want to play, you play. If you don't want to play, you don't play."

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Then, Rybakina appeared to warn tne WTA that the quality of tennis will drop unless they focus on making moves that help and benefit players first.

"If you want to see good quality of tennis, if you want to see players play long their career, not finish early maybe as Ash did, I think, in my opinion, it would be nice to change something. Of course public wants to see good tennis, good quality, but for the players, it's not easy," Rybakina said.

"I mean, of course I'm not here to complain. I'm playing and making good money, but, I mean, I would say that it's not the best thing when you are kind of without emotions and you’re just like on remote control going to play.”

Rybakina set to defend her Rome title

This week, 24-year-old Rybakina will be kicking off her Rome title defense and her fourth appearance at Foro Italico. So far, Rybakina has had a great clay season as she came in Rome riding an 8-1 record on the slowest tennis surface this spring. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Justin Setterfield

After winning a WTA 500 tournament in Stuttgart and playing four matches there, Rybakina also won four matches in Madrid before losing a semifinal thriller to Aryna Sabalenka. 

After two deep runs in Stuttgart and Madrid, Rybakina decided with her team to take a short break and not practice for a couple of days. And Rybakina - who lost to Sabalenka on Friday - returned to the practice court on Tuesday in Rome. 

"Well, I didn't practice for, like, three, four days. Today I managed to hit a bit. Yeah, I think that's the way to keep on going because it's not easy with our schedule," Rybakina said. 

In Rome, Rybakina is the fourth-seeded player and had a first-round bye. From the second round, Rybakina will start her campaign by playing against either Irina Begu or Rebeka Masarova. 

Considering her current form, Rybakina definitely enters Rome as one of the top favorites for the title.

Elena Rybakina