Former Russian junior No. 3 changes her nationality to represent Kazakhstan
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 44864
On the latest ATP rankings list we could trace 12 players from Kazakhstan and the top 4 of them were born in Russia or Ukraine, switching their nationality to represent Kazakhstan in order to get the bigger support from the tennis federation. Kazakhstan had invested a lot of money in their tennis development in the last 10 years, organizing various tournaments and competing in the Davis Cup World Group in seven of the last eight seasons, reaching the quarter-final five times.
Offering funds and support from their tennis federation, Kazakhstan has managed to bring many quality players from the nearby countries of the former USSR, mainly from Russia, and the players like Mikhail Kukushkin, Alexander Bublik, Yulia Putintseva and many others are performing under the flag of Kazakhstan now.
The latest example is the 19-year-old Russian Elena Rybakina, a former junior world number 3 and the semi-finalist of the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 2017. Over the course of her junior career, Rybakina managed to beat the players like Dayana Yastremska, Viktoria Kuzmova, Claire Liu, Olesya Pervushina, Katarina Zavatska, Iga Swiatek and Amanda Anisimova and she is currently ranked 191st on the WTA rankings list after winning her first pro title in Kazan in March.
Moscow native had a chance to play at a strong Premier event in St. Petersburg, qualifying for the main draw and reaching the quarters before losing to Julia Goerges. Elena played in the final of only her third pro event in Antalya in 2015 and she played in many tournaments in her hometown of Moscow before she decided to change the nationality and try to make a name for herself in another country.
There are eight players from Kazakhstan on the latest WTA rankings list, with Zarina Diyas as the best and also the oldest one at the age of 24, and Elena will be a super strong addition to their squad, joining Diyas and Putintseva as the third Kazakhstan player in the top 200 and the one to rely on in the years to come.
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