Elena Rybakina's Indian Wells title defense ends in very unfortunate and brutal way

Rybakina's struggles with gastrointestinal issues continue as the Kazakh had to pull out of Indian Wells at the last moment.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Elena Rybakina's Indian Wells title defense ends in very unfortunate and brutal way
© Getty Images Sport - Christopher Pike

Elena Rybakina's Indian Wells title defense ended before it started as the Kazakh's ongoing struggles with gastrointestinal issues have unfortunately forced the world No. 4 to withdraw from the tournament just before her opening match. 

Rybakina, who was seeded at No. 4 in Indian Wells, had a first-round bye in the desert. On Friday, Rybakina was scheduled to start her Indian Wells run by playing against Nadia Podoroska. But before the match, the 24-year-old Kazakh announced that she would not be able to compete. 

For Rybakina, this is the second consecutive tournament that she is being impacted by gastrointestinal issues. In late February, Rybakina reached the quarterfinal of a WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai before giving a walkover to Jasmine Paolini due to gastrointestinal issues. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Christopher Pike
 

"It is with great sadness I must announce, I will not be able to participate at this year's Indian Wells tournament due to gastrointestinal issues. Those close to me know how much this tournament means to me and how much I wanted to come back and defend my title," Rybakina said in a statement. 

Rybakina's Indian Wells title defense ends in an unfortunate way

After becoming a Grand Slam champion at 2022 Wimbledon, Rybakina also lifted her first WTA 1000 title in Indian Wells last March. 

En route to winning it all in Indian Wells last year, Rybakina put up a major run and was absolutely impressive, having dropped just one set during the tournament. Rybakina was especially impressive in her last two Indian Wells matches last year as she ousted world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinal 6-2 6-2 before beating Aryna Sabalenka in the final 7-6 (11) 6-4. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman
 

Considering that Rybakina arrived to Indian Wells with a 17-3 record and two titles in 2024, she was absolutely considered among the favorites for the title. But unfortunately, she didn't even got a chance to try to defend her title due to a physical issue. 

For Rybakina, the priority now is to recover from her gastrointestinal and try to return to action at a WTA 1000 tournament in Miami, which starts on March 19th.

Elena Rybakina Indian Wells
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