Fourth seed Elena Rybakina forced to withdraw from French Open

Illness means the Kazakhstani star had to depart ahead of her third-round tie

Karl Matchett
Saturday 03 June 2023 11:16 BST

Elena Rybakina has been forced to withdraw from the French Open due to a respiratory illness, shortly before her third-round match.

The Kazakhstani 23-year-old, who was born in Russia, was due to face unseeded Spanish opponent Sara Sorribes Tormo on Philippe-Chartrier Court to open play on Saturday morning.

While Rybakina was out on the clay surface an hour earlier, doing some warm-ups and practice shots, news broke just before the allotted start time that she was withdrawing from the tournament, handing a walkover to Sorribes Tormo - meaning a first-ever appearance in the round of 16 for her.

In a short press conference confirming her departure, Rybakina revealed she had been suffering over the past 24 hours since beating Linda Noskova in the second round on Thursday.

Rybakina said: “I was not feeling good already yesterday and the day before, so I didn’t sleep two nights and had some fever. Today I really tried in the warm-up but I feel that the right decision is to withdraw, because it’s really tough to play with these conditions.

“I saw the doctor and they said that actually it’s all a virus here in Paris. I guess with my allergy, immune system just went down and I picked up something. It’s difficult to perform and obviously to run and even breathe. So I think that was the only right decision I could make.

“Today I just wanted to give 100 per cent and obviously I’m far from being 100 per cent. It was unlucky for me. I just try to recover and do my best to be prepared for the grass season already.”

Along with reigning champion Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, Rybakina would have been seen as one of the main contenders to win in Paris this month, particularly after winning on clay in Rome recently.

Sorribes Tormo now awaits a fourth-round tie against either 14th-seed Beatriz Haddad Maia or 23rd-seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.

“Of course I’m really upset not to be able to play but I guess that’s life,” added the Kazakhstan player. “There is a lot of ups and downs.”

Rybakina is due to play her first grass-court tournament in Berlin beginning on June 19 before heading to Eastbourne as she builds up to the defence of her Wimbledon title.

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