Elena Rybakina reveals impact illness left on her in Miami, makes candid admission

baptiste-giabiconi  > tennis >  Elena Rybakina reveals impact illness left on her in Miami, makes candid admission

Elena Rybakina acknowledged that it didn’t take long before dealing with an illness going into the Miami Open started to leave a physical toll on her body.

At the start of the Sunshine Double, Rybakina suffered a bit setback when she wasn’t able to defend her Indian Wells title due to gastrointestinal illness. After withdrawing from Indian Wells, Rybakina spent the next eight days trying to recover and didn’t have any practices.

But a few days before Miami, Rybakina was able to get some practice and decided to give it a go to the second tournament of the Sunshine Double. Early in the tournament, Rybakina was evidently far from her best but she still managed to clinch two tight three-set wins over Clara Tauson and Taylor Townsend.

After beating Madison Keys in two sets, Rybakina won another two tight three-setters after edging out Maria Sakkari in the quarterfinal and Victoria Azarenka in the semifinal, respectively. Considering the circumstances, even the 24-year-old Kazakh was left surprised about managing to win a couple of marathon three-setters in Miami.

But then in the Miami final against Danielle Collins, the tiredness and exhaustion evidently impacted Rybakina, who was making some easy mistakes and errors throughout a 5-7 3-6 loss to the American.

In her post-Miami final press conference, Rybakina very honestly admitted that “we (she and her team) were not expecting for me to be in the final).”

“No, of course after I think match with Maria, it was already difficult physically. I was feeling the body, of course,” Rybakina said when asked if she was at 100 percent and if everything that happened lately left a toll on her physical condition.

“And also, it was not easy tournament, because first matches I was playing quite late, finishing, and then I was going to sleep around 2:00, 3:00. Then some matches were during the day. So the schedule was also up and down, and recovery, it doesn’t help, for sure.

“I mean, as I said, it was a lot of tough matches. Some of them went my way with a bit of luck here and there. This one didn’t, and of course I was not expecting to be fresh in this final , and she played really well, so…”

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport – Elsa

Rybakina thrilled with her Miami run because she didn’t expect to make the final

Being forced to skip Indian Wells and left unable to practice for over a week was all but ideal for Rybakina. Considering the situation and circumstances, the 24-year-old was just happy that she was able to compete in Miami and her mindset was that just clinching two wins would be a success.

But then, Rybakina did a lot more than clinching two wins but still fell one win short of winning her first Miami title.

Last year, Rybakina won Indian Wells and put herself in a strong position to complete the Sunshine Double but then got upset by Petra Kvitova in the Miami final.

When asked to compare her two Miami final losses, Rybakina highlighted that the circumstances were completely different.

“I think it’s different, but it’s just completely different situation. Last year I was coming from Indian Wells, and I knew to make Sunshine Double, everybody says it’s very difficult and with difficult conditions, big change from Indian Wells coming to Miami, so I was there also focusing match by match,” Rybakina explained.

“Here I was happy with two good matches, and then again I came to the final. So pretty much I wouldn’t say disappointing. I think last year and this year, it’s good result. Of course it’s not easy to lose in the final, but in the end, in the long run, I think it’s still a great achievement.”

Elena Rybakina and Danielle Collins
Elena Rybakina and Danielle Collins© Getty Images Sport – Elsa

Rybakina rates her first three months of the 2024 season

In the first three months, Rybakina made four finals (Brisbane, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Miami) and won two titles in Brisbane and Abu Dhabi. While already making four finals is a notable thing, one very disappointing thing is that Rybakina shockingly lost to Anna Blinkova in the Australian Open second round.

But Rybakina – who later revealed that she was battling an illness at the Australian Open – remains pretty happy about her results through the first three months of the season.

“I think it was successful three months. Not easy, for sure, with some illness in between. Yeah, I think in the end it’s successful, a lot of matches I played, a lot of wins. So can’t complain. Looking forward for clay,” Rybakina assessed.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport – Al Bello

Meanwhile, Rybakina will now probably take a couple of days to rest and recharge and then kick off her preparations for the clay season.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the world No. 4 would start her clay season at a WTA 500 tournament in Stuttgart. In Stuttgart, the 24-year-old Kazakh will be making her third consecutive appearance, with her previous two appearances ending in the round-of-16.

Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff are all set to play in Stuttgart and it remains to be seen if Rybakina can make a deep run in a star-studded Stuttgart player field.

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