Elena Rybakina has learned her projected path to winning Tokyo as the Kazakh is set to play her first tournament since surprisingly losing in the US Open third round. In Tokyo, Rybakina received a potentially tricky opener as she is set to play rising Czech star Linda Noskova.
In the Tokyo round-of-16, Rybakina could meet Donna Vekic, who upset her in Berlin during the grass season. In the Tokyo quarterfinal, Rybakina is projected to meet seventh-seeded Liudmila Samsonova. Then, there could be a major matchup in the Tokyo semifinal as Rybakina is likely to clash against Iga Swiatek.
Should Rybakina make the Tokyo final, the star names that she could meet there include Jessica Pegula, Maria Sakkari and Caroline Garcia. Meanwhile, Rybakina is the third-seeded player but won't have a first-round bye at the tournament due to the WTA's trialing of performance byes.
Instead, Sakkari and Garcia - who are ranked below Rybakina but made the Guadalajara semifinal last week - were granted top-4 seedings. After beating Garcia in the semifinal, Sakkari also won her Guadalajara final match.
Elena Rybakina WON'T receive a first-round bye in Tokyo as WTA Tour is trialing performances byes.
As a result, in addition to Iga Swiatek (seed #1) and Jessica Pegula (#2), the remaining two first-round byes have been awarded to Maria Sakkari (#4) and Caroline Garcia (#5),… pic.twitter.com/DjJStDVdHV — Relevant Tennis (@RelevantTennis) September 23, 2023
Rybakina hopes to do well in Tokyo after an early US Open loss
At the US Open, Rybakina was among the favorites for the title but she didn't make it far after losing to Sorana Cirstea in the third round.
Against Cirstea, Rybakina was coming back several times from a deficit but failed to complete a comeback as the Romanian ended up beating the Kazakh 6-3 6-7 (6) 6-4. After the match, Cirstea had a special message for Rybakina.
"She's a great player. She's number four in the world for a reason and she's also a sweetheart and I think she's wonderful for our tour. I’ve lost twice against her before, and she’s a very good player. It's a great win for me, especially because I played well and I really think I gave everything I had tonight and I deserved this win.
And again, thank you everyone for the support," Cirstea said after beating Rybakina. It remains to be seen how well can Rybakina do in Tokyo in her first post-US Open tournament.