Elena Rybakina hits back over ‘fake news’ about her ‘passionate coach’ Stefano Vukov

Elena Rybakina takes a break

Elena Rybakina has come out to bat for her coach Stefano Vukov following criticism of his behaviour during her run to the Australian Open final.

Vukov made headlines during Rybakina’s semi-final win over Victoria Azarenka as many felt his gestures and in-match coaching methods were over the top, but he dismissed the criticism after the match saying “it’s easy to just take clips and then make something controversial”.

He toned down the antics during the final against Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday, but he still copped flak with doubles legend and tennis commentator Pam Shriver urging Rybakina to get a new coach.

“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,” the American tweeted.

It led to an online spat with Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who currently coaches Tokyo Olympic singles gold medalist Belinda Bencic, decribing Shriver’s comments as “questionable”, urging her to apologise to Vukov.

READ MORE: Pam Shriver told she ‘owes’ Elena Rybakina’s coach a public apology over Twitter comments

Rybakina, who won her maiden Grand Slam at Wimbledon last year under Vukov’s mentorship, has defended her coach in an Instagram post.

“After a great Australian Open, I have seen some disturbing comments on social media about the behaviour of my coach Stefano Vukov,” she wrote. “I want to clarify any misinterpretations. Stefano has believed in me for many years, before anyone else did.

“We plotted a strategy together in how I could achieve great things and his method shows in my Grand Slam success so far. He is a passionate coach, with a lot of knowledge about tennis. Unlike people that are making these comments, he has great knowledge about me as a person and as an athlete.”

Rybakina has been working with Vukov since 2019 and she is determined to continue working with him.

The 23-year-old added: “Those who know me well, will know that I would never accept a coach that didn’t respect me and all our hard work. I may be quiet on court and in general, but inside me is a competitive athlete that wants to achieve great things and Stefano has helped me greatly in this way. So please disregard any fake news to the contrary.”