Elena Rybakina - Indian Wells 2023

Defending champion Elena Rybakina withdraws from Indian Wells

Elena Rybakina has withdrawn from Indian Wells, with the defending champion citing illness for her omission from the tournament.

Rybakina claimed her first WTA 1000 title last year at the tournament in the desert, after beating Aryna Sabalenka in the final.

The world No.4 has been in California all week and told reporters that she was feeling physically fine in her pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday.

However, it appears that illness has got in the way instead, with Rybakina releasing this statement to confirm her withdrawal, “It is with great sadness I must announce, I will not be able to participate at this years’ 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. I would like to thank all the fans who come out here to support me and I am sorry they will not get a chance to see me play this year. Now I will rest and recover so I can come out and play and compete for my fans to the best of my abilities once again.”

It is not the first time in recent weeks that Rybakina has cited illness, with the Kazakhstani also withdrawing from her quarter-final match in Dubai.

Rybakina was replaced by lucky loser Kayla Day, who was subsequently beaten by another lucky loser in Nadia Podoroska to move onto the third round at Indian Wells.

Despite pulling out of Indian Wells, Rybakina is still entered into the Miami Open where she has runner-up points to defend from last year.

Inside the baseline…

It is a very disappointing announcement from Elena Rybakina, who has had a very mixed season so far. The 24-year-old has already won two titles this year, in Brisbane and Abu Dhabi, but also suffered a surprise early Australian Open defeat and more recently illness. Obviously this is completely out of Rybakina’s control and hopefully with a couple of weeks break, she can recover in time to be competitive in Miami.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.