Last Updated on July 12, 2023
Elena Rybakina, the rising star of the tennis world, recently clinched victory at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, marking her biggest clay-court title so far. It was a surprise run to the top, even by her own admission, as everything unexpectedly fell into place. From a series of retirement wins to the cooler, rainy weather conditions in Rome, the fortnight seemed tailor-made for Rybakina’s success. “I came without any expectations because I really struggle a bit here in Rome with allergies,” Rybakina admitted. “Usually, it’s very hot here but this time it was raining all the time, so it kind of helped me survive.”
Her triumph in Rome not only marked her fifth career title and second of the season, but also a significant leap in her career rankings. Come Monday, she will break into the Top 5 for the first time, standing at No.4. This significant achievement assures her a Top 4 seeding at the upcoming Roland Garros tournament. Rybakina’s newfound position holds strategic advantages, shielding her from facing the No.1 Iga Swiatek or No.2 Aryna Sabalenka until the semifinals at the earliest.
However, this meteoric rise to success was not an isolated incident. Rybakina’s record for the season is already impressive, leading the tour in WTA 1000 wins and adding Rome to her Indian Wells victory. In addition, she is the first player to capture two WTA 1000 titles in 2023. The Australian Open runner-up’s performance has been stellar, with her 19-2 record at WTA 1000 events in 2023 highlighting her dominating presence.
However, the pivotal role behind Rybakina’s remarkable journey so far has been her coach. Who is the person guiding this powerhouse, and how have they contributed to her impressive rise in the tennis world? This article aims to unravel these questions, giving us a closer look at the figure behind Rybakina’s successes.
Who Is Elena Rybakina’s Current Coach?
Elena Rybakina’s current coach is Stefano Vukov, an experienced tennis mentor who has guided several players in the past. His coaching journey began with Anhelina Kalinina, a Ukrainian player who ranks 34th globally. It was Kalinina who introduced him to Rybakina, and the two began their professional partnership at the beginning of 2019.
Born on March 27, 1987, Vukov himself is a former Croatian tennis player who competed in ITF Men’s World Tennis events, including the ITF Futures Tour. At the peak of his career, he achieved a singles ranking of 1122 worldwide.
Vukov’s early life was marked by travel and change. Born in Rijeka, Croatia, his family moved due to wartime circumstances, causing him to spend little time in his birthplace. He competed at the Futures and Challenger levels in Italy for 15 years before moving to Miami for his college education.
“We travel the world. It’s sunny, we’re hitting a tennis ball, living healthy. It’s very difficult to have a bad day.”— wta (@WTA) April 19, 2020
Coaching Dossier with 🇭🇷 Stefano Vukov, the coach of Elena Rybakina —> https://t.co/1TpUN4jgrb pic.twitter.com/L1NCOXTq3i
As Vukov confessed he was not trying to be an authoritarian coach, he tried to listen to Rybakina, to adapt to the tennis player, and not to make her fulfill all his demands thoughtlessly. At the same time, Elena spoke very respectfully of Stefano saying that she learned much about tennis from him. Such interaction between mentor and player quickly paid off – in 2019 Elena took the title in Bucharest and was nominated for the WTA Rookie of the Year, in 2020 she won the tournament in Hobart.
“I think there’s always room for improvement. She can move even better, she can get stronger, she can get more explosive… I would like to see her at the net more often, but she’s making progress, which I’m very happy about. Overall, she has a great backhand, both cross and line, and her forehand is getting better as well” – said Vukov in an interview.
This season, Rybakina is putting up an outstanding performance. She’s already claimed two significant victories at the Masters tournaments in Indian Wells and Rome. Additionally, she made it to the finals in Miami and battled for the trophy in the Australian Open, the season’s first major tournament. Despite her best efforts, she fell short in both finals, losing to her competitors.
“I’m proud that I can maintain this level,” Rybakina said. “It’s not easy, with all the scheduling, traveling. I think we’re doing a good job with the team. I can see improvements on the court, physically also. I think we’re on a right way.” Her words reflect her tenacity and the collective effort of her team, one that has been key to her success.
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Video: Stefano Vukov on-court coaching Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina former coaches
Elena began playing tennis when she was very young, leaving the Dynamo Sports Club for the Spartak Tennis Club and working with numerous instructors. Andrey Chesnokov, a former top-10 player who previously worked with Elena Vesnina. However, Chesnokov could not accompany Elena on her trips, so she eventually decided to refuse his services in 2019.
Irina Kiseleva, a World Championship gold medalist in modern pentathlon, was one of her fitness instructors. Elena didn’t get individual training until she was a junior, when she practiced with a group of eight players until age 15 and four players after that.
She only played tennis for two hours each day, and she exercised for three hours a day. She had to balance tennis with schoolwork since she attended a general high school rather than a sports academy, limiting her time on the court.
Elena Rybakina’s achievements with different coaches
We have collected in the table the data about the trophies won by Elena Rybakina under the guidance of various coaches.
|Coach||Years Of Cooperation||Title|
|Stefano Vukov||2019-Present||2023 – Italian Open;|
2023 – Indian Wells;
2022 – Wimbledon;
2020 – Hobart;
2019 – Bucharest