Elena Rybakina coach, Stefano Vukov, semi-final, field, Victoria Azarenka, what did he say, are you allowed to teach throughout tennis matches
The coach of Australian Open finalist Elena Rybakina has fired back after being criticized for his aggressive coaching style from the box.
Stefano Vukov was shown on the broadcast yelling at Rybakina at crucial moments during her semi-final match against Victoria Azarenka on Thursday night.
Coaching is allowed for the first time at the Australian Open this year and some, including Vukov, have taken to the new rules with gusto.
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Big serving Rybakina fires into final | 01:12
Rybakina failed to serve out the first set at 5-3 and was down 0-40 at 5-5 when Vukov was shown ripping into the 23-year-old and telling her to think.
The coach and player have been working together since 2019 — including Rybakina’s breakthrough Wimbledon win last year — but the ugly footage on Thursday night prompted several people to call for Rybakina to end their partnership.
But Vukov hit back on Friday when foxsports.com.au asked the coach if he needed to better control his emotions in the box.
“It’s easy to just take clips and then make something controversial. This is part of our sport, it’s normal,” he said.
“There’s 10,000 people out there, to get the attention of the player is definitely not easy and people don’t understand that. I have to scream out something if she’s off track.
“People can interpret that how they want but at the end of the day we’re just doing our job. Coaching is now allowed and she’s using it in the best possible way.”
Vukov believes coaching from the box can have a huge impact on results.
“I think with all the emotions, sometimes the player doesn’t understand which situation of the match they are, which is absolutely normal,”
“You know, you’re flowing, you’re into a rhythm, which has happened also yesterday, for example, against Azarenka. A set, 3-1 up, two break points. She stopped playing, Elena, for a couple of games, for example, instead of going for the point a little bit more.
“There are moments we try to remind her, Hey, this is the moment to push. This is the moment to defend.
“It’s normal. There are moments of the match the player doesn’t remember, for example, or in a pressure point, which side to defend more, where to serve more.
“We are there to remind you. So obviously I think that coaching is very important. I think that the player, if the player wants to listen, obviously, they should use it as much as possible, because there is some matches that a few points make the difference. Look at the beginning of yesterday. 3-2 down, two bad choices. That’s it. That’s it. She could have been 3-0 or 4-0 up.
“I don’t know, something like this. Not to be negative, but it’s just our job, right? That’s what we are there for.”
Despite the criticism from her box, Rybakina prevailed 7-6 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena to make her second major final.
“I couldn’t get free points on my serve that easy like during the day when I played matches. I knew that I need to adjust,” Rybakina said after the match.
“I was doing correct things. It was just a matter to be more focused on these important moments.”
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Vukov has a tattoo of Rybakina after vowing to do so if she won Wimbledon last year, which she did in a comeback victory over Ons Jabeur.
In Melbourne, she has knocked out grand slam champions in three straight matches to make the final.
Rybakina took down world No. 1 Iga Swiatek then 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko before ousting two-win Australian Open winner Azarenka.
But Vukov confirmed there’s no bet on the line this time.
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