Elena Rybakina sustains setback after losing WTL thriller to Aryna Sabalenka

Rybakina's World Tennis League campaign finished earlier than expected.

by Dzevad Mesic
Elena Rybakina sustains setback after losing WTL thriller to Aryna Sabalenka
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Elena Rybakina withdrew from the World Tennis League in Abu Dhabi due to sickness, the tournament announced on Saturday. Rybakina, ranked at No. 4 in the world, competed in the opening two days of the event. When the tournament organizers released Saturday's order of play, they announced that Rybakina was out of the tournament due to sickness. Also, the tournament organizers named former top-10 player Vera Zvonareva as Rybakina's replacement. 

Unfortunately, Rybakina has battled sickness several times over the course of the year. At the French Open, Rybakina made the third round before pulling out due to a viral illness. During and after the US Open, Rybakina also battled a virus. 

Rybakina lost to Aryna Sabalenka on Friday at the World Tennis League

On Friday, Rybakina's Falcons had a 24-23 lead over Team Kites going into the final Rybakina and Sabalenka match. After Sabalenka won the set with a 7-6 (2) score to equal the tie to 30-30 apiece, a deciding match tie-break was required. In the match tie-break, Sabalenka was also victorious as she won the tie-break with a 10-6 score to complete the Kites' win over the Falcons.

“We’ve played a lot of times against each other. It’s always a tough match and a tough battle. It’s all about my team. They did it. They were helping me to stay positive and that’s why I was able to fight for every point," Sabalenka said after beating Rybakina.

Before taking on Sabalenka, Rybakina clashed against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek. After Swiatek won their singles match with a 6-4 score, the Falcons and the Hawks were tied at 24 points apiece. In the deciding tie-break, Rybakina beat Swiatek 10-8 to complete the Falcons' win over the Hawks.

“Honestly, Iga brought so much energy and the match was really intense. It was difficult but an important one for me. I am in good shape now,” Rybakina told Gulf News after the Swiatek match.

Elena Rybakina Aryna Sabalenka