2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has again hit out at WTA leadership, this time over the introduction of performance byes at the upcoming WTA 500 tournament in Tokyo.

At next week's Toray Pan Pacific Open, Guadalajara semifinalists Caroline Garcia and Maria Sakkari, the No. 5 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, join No. 1 and No. 2 seeds Iga Swiatek and Jessica Pegula in receiving first-round byes, which the WTA says is as a result of their performance this week at the WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Garcia reached the semifinals, where she lost to Sakkari.)

That left Rybakina, despite being ranked higher than both Garcia and Sakkari, as the odd woman out. As the No. 3 seed, Rybakina traditionally would've received a first-round bye at a WTA 500 event, and she voiced her displeasure at the situation on the eve of the tournament.

"Thank you for changing the rules [at the] last moment," Rybakina wrote in an Instagram story on top of a screenshot of the Tokyo draw. "Great decisions as always @wta." She accompanied the post with a sarcastic clapping emoji, plus circus tent and clown face emojis.


The rule regarding performance byes has been in the WTA rulebook since the advent of WTA Premier Mandatory events (now WTA 1000s) in 2009, and the WTA has used them at tournaments many times, including between Antwerp and Dubai back in 2015. Doubles player Nicole Melichar-Martinez also challenged Rybakina's assertion that the rules were amended at the "last moment" through her own social media post on X, formerly known as Twitter.


But, regardless of the timeline, it's also not the first time that the Russian-born Kazakh has critiqued the tour's leadership this year.

Rybakina dubbed the WTA "weak" in the aftermath of the WTA 1000 in Montreal, which was plagued by rain that wreaked havoc on the event schedule. She and Daria Kasatkina took the court after 11 p.m. for their quarterfinal match, which ended at 2:55 a.m. Friday; and her semifinal against Liudmila Samsonova, scheduled for Saturday evening, was washed out to Sunday afternoon.

Rybakina claimed she "picked up some injuries" as a result of the situation, which lingered well after the tournament. She retired in the second round of the Western & Southern Open, lost in the second round of the US Open, and hadn't played since ahead of her arrival in Tokyo.

"I think it’s been a little bit unprofessional from the–I cannot say really the tournament because I think that the most important is the WTA here," she said after losing to Samsonova in Canada. "Leadership a little bit weak for now, but hopefully something is going to change because this year it was many situations which I cannot really understand.”

Rybakina will face Czech teenager Linda Noskova in the opening round in Tokyo. The two played in the first round at Roland Garros this spring, and Rybakina won, 6-3, 6-3.