Elena Rybakina Defeats Iga Swiatek in Australian Open

If you went by the seedings, Sunday’s result was an upset. Rybakina is seeded 22nd, but that is misleading. She got no ranking points for winning Wimbledon because the tours stripped the tournament of points in retaliation for its decision to bar Russian and Belarusian players after the invasion of Ukraine.

Rybakina, born and raised in Russia before switching allegiance to Kazakhstan in 2018, was not affected by the ban, but without the 2,000 points normally allotted to the singles champion, she did not get a rankings boost for her victory.

With those points, she would be comfortably in the top 10 and would also have qualified for last year’s eight-player WTA Finals, where another mother lode of points was available.

Though she and her team appealed to the WTA to give her a wild card for the event based on her Wimbledon victory, the WTA did not grant the request.

“I think she deserved it,” Stefano Vukov, her coach, said on Sunday. “And people also don’t realize that players get big bonuses from their sponsors for finishing top five or top 10 that can add up to millions of dollars, so not getting the points from Wimbledon definitely cost her.”

Representing Kazakhstan makes it more challenging to market her globally than if she represented, say, a Grand Slam nation. For Vukov, that is a part of the reason she has received more Off Broadway court assignments than a typical first-time Wimbledon champion.

“Where you come from has a big impact on the respect you might get on tour,” he said. “Not to be prejudiced or negative about it, but it is what it is. The biggest markets we have are the U.S. and China. You might get more recognition if you are from the U.S. than maybe from Kazakhstan, which is totally understandable. In Kazakhstan, she gets huge recognition, but worldwide, internationally, it does affect things.”

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