Elena Rybakina's coach has come under fire after he seemingly berated his player a number of times in her semi-final clash against Victoria Azarenka on Thursday night, and again in the final on Saturday. The reigning Wimbledon champion took on Aryna Sabalenka in Saturday night's Australian Open final, going down 6-4 3-6 6-4.
The Kazakh player found herself the centre of drama around her coach, who could be seen offering some choice words and gestures towards her throughout the tournament. With mid-match coaching now legal, Stefano Vukov has been taking advantage throughout the Australian Open and offering advice to his player.
'TAKE IT OFF': Victoria Azarenka ordered to remove shirt in bizarre scenes
However some believe his style is far too aggressive and expressed their concerns for Rybakina. Video went gone viral of the moment Vukov pointed to his head after Rybakina failed to serve out the first set while up 5-3 in the semi-final against Victoria Azarenka.
She then fell to 0-40 on serve at 5-5, prompting more anger from the box. British player-turned commentator Laura Robson was critical of Vukov's actions after the match.
"We were actually watching the box a lot through the match. I don't know how she deals with the coach. He seems to be so negative," Robson said on Eurosport.
— Andrew Jerell Jones, Luke 1:37 (IG:twdbk3) (@sluggahjells) January 26, 2023
The Tennis Podcast Twitter account commented: "I could very, very happily go for the rest of my life without seeing another shot of Elena Rybakina's coach yelling at her. If any broadcast directors are listening/interested."
Vukov was also seen in conversation with a tournament official at one point. However it wasn't clear what the conversation was about.
On Saturday night during the final, American great Pam Shriver tweeted: "As I watch Rybakina try to win her second major in 7 months, I hope she finds a coach who speaks and treats her with respect at ALL times and does not ever accept anything less."
As I watch Rybakina try to win her second major in 7 months, I hope she finds a coach who speaks and treats her with respect at ALL times and does not ever accept anything less.
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) January 28, 2023
I could very, very happily go for the rest of my life without seeing another shot of Elena Rybakina's coach yelling at her.
If any broadcast directors are listening/interested.
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) January 26, 2023
I remember going to the uso in 2021 and my dad sitting next to stefano Vukov when rybakina was playing sasnovich round 1. All he could remember was him yelling and cursing after every point she lost. Nasty nasty man😤
— EMTO ROUND2CANU (@medvedilf) January 26, 2023
Rybakina needs a new coach: Not sure shaking his head every time his charge makes a mistake is the best approach! #AusOpen
— Simon Lawson (@simonislawson) January 26, 2023
@TennisPodcast Rybakina had to battle both Vika and her coach in that set. That man was making me nervous with throughout with his constant complaining and terrible body language, can't imagine it was helping Elena much.
— Carlos (@CMH_1980) January 26, 2023
Rybakina’s coach looked toxic more than once. Hope journos ask players whether they enjoy the chatters from their coaches. https://t.co/3NuE9fZZzz
— Tahseen Kamal, Ph.D. (ANU), FHEA (@tkamal16) January 26, 2023
Elena Rybakina loses to Aryna Sabalenka in Australian Open final
Sabalenka captured her maiden grand slam singles title with her victory on Saturday night. The Belarusian player finishes the Australian summer with an 11-match unbeaten streak after also winning the Adelaide International in the lead-up to the Melbourne Park grand slam. She dropped just one set along the way.
Rybakina had been hoping to emulate Ash Barty's feat of winning Wimbledon and the Australian Open in succession. The retired Aussie champion won Wimbledon in 2021 and the Australian Open in 2022 before walking away from the sport last March.
The Australian Open title is actually Sabalenka's second. The 23-year-old won the women's doubles title in 2021 alongside Elise Mertens.
Sabalanka will move up to World No.2 after her triumph, while Rybakina will finally move into the top 10. The Kazakh star didn't received any rankings points for her win at Wimbledon after the ATP and WTA tours retaliated to the All England Club's decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus.
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