Elena Rybakina has defended her coach Stefano Vukov after he received criticism for appearing to be too aggressive with her during her Australian Open final game.
Rybakina lost to Aryna Rybakina in three sets on Saturdays final. She later felt compelled to speak about the criticisms of her coach.
The two have worked together since 2019 and he took full advantage of the fact that coaching was allowed this year for the first time. He was seen shouting instructions at Rybakina from the stands. He was also seen reacting negatively to her whenever she struggled.
One of his critics was Pam Shriver who tweeted:
“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.”
Rybakina took to Instagram to defend her coach saying:
After a great AO, I have seen some disturbing comments on social media about the behavior of my coach Stefano Vukov,” Rybakina 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.
“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.”
Despite the criticism of his coaching style, Vukov has helped Rybakina rise in the rankings and even helped her win Wimbledon, making her one of the best players today.
Shriver was not the only player to criticize Vukov. Another former player, Laura Robson, also voiced her concern.
“We were actually watching the box a lot through the match. I don’t know how she deals with the coach. He seems to be so negative,” Robson said on Eurosport.
Vukov has also responded to the criticism of his coaching style. Speaking to Fox Sports Australia, he said:
“People can interpret that how they want but at the end of the day were just doing our job. Coaching is now allowed and shes using it in the best possible way.