Elena Rybakina coach under fire at Australian Open

Elena Rybakina coach Stefano Vukov under fire at Australian Open for talking aggressively to the player

Elena Rybakina coach Stefano Vukov under fire at Australian Open

Elena Rybakina coach Stefano Vukov has come under fire for seemingly berating the player from the sidelines during the Australian Open.

Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion, went down 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 to Aryna Sabalenka in the Australian Open final on Saturday.

ALSO READ: Aryna Sabalenka is first ‘neutral’ Grand Slam champion

The 23-year-old found herself the centre of drama around her coach, who could be seen offering some choice words and gestures towards her throughout the tournament.

During her semi-final against Victoria Azarenka, Vukov was seen talking aggressively and pointing to his head after Rybakina failed to serve out the first set at 5-3.

“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,” former player Laura Robson said on Eurosport.

Upgrade your serve with our FREE guide

The Tennis Podcast Twitter account commented: “I could very, very happily go for the rest of my life without seeing another shot of Elena Rybakina’s coach yelling at her. If any broadcast directors are listening/interested.”

Vukov was also seen in conversation with a tournament official at one point. However it wasn’t clear what the conversation was about.

The coach defended himself saying it wasn’t fair to view the footage in isolation.

“I mean, first of all, I think that like it’s easy to just, you know, take clips and then make something controversial,” said Vukov.

ALSO READ: Alison Riske-Amritraj slams umpire for ‘sleeping’ during point

“I mean, this is part of our sport. It’s normal, you know. As coaching, you know, there is 10,000 people out there. To get attention of the player is definitely not easy.

“People don’t understand that. I have to scream out something if she’s off track. Then people can interpret this how they want.

ALSO READ: Rafael Nadal ‘mentally destroyed’ after early Australian Open exit

“But at the end of the day, we are just doing our job. Coaching is now allowed, and I think she’s using it in the best possible way.”

Vukov, who reached a career-high of No 1,122 in the ATP Rankings, has been coaching Rybakina for the past four years.

ALSO READ: Andy Murray stages epic comeback win

Rybakina started the 2019 season at World No 175, but she has surged up the rankings since teaming up with Vukov and finds herself in the top 10 following her run in Melbourne.

Their biggest success came at Wimbledon last year when Rybakina became the first player from Kazakhstan to win a Grand Slam, defeating Ons Jabeur in three sets in the final.

ALSO READ: Novak Djokovic gets drunk fan kicked out for constant heckling

On Saturday night during the final, American great Pam Shriver 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.”