Elena Rybakina feels no pressure ahead of Wimbledon title defense | Inquirer Sports

Elena Rybakina feels no pressure ahead of Wimbledon title defense

/ 09:42 PM July 03, 2023

Elena Rybakina

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina reacts as she plays against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka during the women’s singles final on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2023. (Photo by Martin KEEP / AFP)

Elena Rybakina comes into Wimbledon as a defending Grand Slam champion for the first time in her career but the world number three said on Sunday that she does not feel pressure despite a virus hampering her preparation ahead of her title defense.

The unassuming Rybakina was a surprise champion last year and though there were no ranking points on offer, she used it as a stepping stone to make deep runs in tournaments and win titles to climb up the rankings.

She reached the Australian Open final where she lost to Aryna Sabalenka but took her revenge when she captured the Indian Wells crown before lifting the trophy in Rome to rise up to a career-high number three last month.

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“Of course, it’s different this year. I won’t say that I feel so much pressure. Of course, people are talking,” Rybakina told reporters.

“The important thing is that we keep on working with the team. They’re also trying to help me out, to prepare for the matches.

“Hopefully my level is going to stay that high and it’s going to be a normal thing to come and defend.”

The big-serving Kazakh has only played two matches on grass following her French Open third round withdrawal, however, after a viral illness forced her to lay low.

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The 24-year-old said it took her a full week before she could get back to training for the grasscourt swing and was forced to pull out of a warm-up event in Eastbourne as she was not ready.

“The preparation we did, I would say it was good, but still not the amount of hours and work we wanted to put in. But overall I think we did maximum what we could,” she said.

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“I have an allergy. The worse for me is the whole (month of) May, I would say. I take pills, like antihistamine like everybody else.

“The virus I caught was because the immune system was weak at that period. It was just the virus. I couldn’t take much. But the body had to recover by itself also, so it took a lot of time.”

The third seed plays Shelby Rogers in the first round and the American beat her on grass in their last meeting in 2022.

“She’s a tough player, she also serves well. She’s trying to play aggressive,” she said.

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“So it’s not going to be an easy one. We know each other pretty well.”

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TAGS: Elena Rybakina, Wimbledon

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