Elena Rybakina - Stuttgart Open 2023

Elena Rybakina labels maiden Italian Open triumph as ‘strange’

Elena Rybakina has won the Italian Open, but the Kazakh described her first WTA 1000 triumph on clay as ‘strange’ after a series of rain delays and retirements.

Rybakina won the title after beating Anhelina Kalinina in the final, who retired with an injury to her heavily strapped left leg after losing the first set.

The Italian Open champion was full of well wishes for the Ukrainian, “I want to wish Anhelina a speedy recovery, because she’s a good friend of mine. I’m really happy for all her results. I wish you’ll keep going & congrats to her & Anton [Kalinina’s coach]. Keep on going. Hopefully you can recover for French Open.”

It was the third time that Rybakina had won by retirement in Rome, with Kalinina following No.1 Iga Swiatek and Anna Kalinskaya.

There were also a lot of delays due to rain, with the women’s final not beginning until 11pm after the completion of the men’s semi-finals.

Rybakina commented on this, “For sure it’s a really strange two weeks for me. I don’t remember when I got retirement on the other tournaments. Here it was like three. It’s really strange. Also with the rain delays I was going to sleep really late, waking up almost in the afternoon.”

She continued, “It wasn’t easy. It was a really long day. In the beginning I was fine, like, waiting, waiting. Then after maybe four hours, it was really tough. I knew that it’s not going to be easy, but that’s unfortunately the weather.”

With her biggest title on the dirt, Rybakina rises to a new career-high of No.4 and has backed herself to ‘play good on all surfaces’.

“With my game, I can play good on all the surfaces,” claimed Rybakina. “It’s just for clay I need to be ready more physically and have a lot of preparation, which I don’t always have the time for after the hard-court season.”

Rybakina now heads into the second major of the year at Roland Garros as one of the big favourites, with her previous best performance coming in 2021 when she reached the quarter-final.

Elena Rybakina WTA Career titles

Rybakina’s triumph in the Italian capital is her fifth title on the WTA tour, with the 23-year-old now having titles on all surfaces at WTA 1000 level and above.

Here is what Rybakina has won in her career so far:

2019 – Bucharest (Clay)

2020 – Hobart (Hard)

2022 – Wimbledon (Grass)

2023 – Indian Wells (Hard) & Italian Open (Clay)

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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.