Iga Swiatek, a prominent tennis player, has expressed her support for the reintroduction of performance byes during the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) Asian swing of events. Swiatek believes that these byes provide an opportunity for players who reach the semifinals of a tournament to rest and adequately prepare for the next one.
The performance byes rule was put into effect during the China Open, granting Jessica Pegula, Maria Sakkari, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Veronika Kudermetova byes into the second round due to their achievement of reaching the semifinals of the Tokyo tournament the previous week. Typically, byes are reserved for top-seeded players in events. However, this performance-based rule allowed players like Swiatek, who lost in the Tokyo quarters, to enter the first round in China without a bye. Even World No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 3 Coco Gauff missed out on the byes as they had not participated in any tournaments since the US Open.
While Swiatek supports the rule, Sabalenka expressed her dissatisfaction with it. She argued that players should only earn byes based on their performance in top-tier events that earn ranking points, rather than in lower-tier tournaments like the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, which was a WTA 500 event. On the other hand, the China Open is classified as a WTA 1000 tournament.
Swiatek acknowledged that she had not thoroughly researched the rule since these were the first tournaments she had participated in where such a rule was implemented. However, she believed that the rule made sense, drawing from her own experience of rushing from one tournament to another without enough time to rest and properly prepare.
Elena Rybakina, another tennis player, withdrew from the Pan Pacific Open due to fitness issues and publicly criticized the WTA for introducing the performance byes at the tournament. She took to Instagram to express her discontent, sarcastically thanking the WTA for changing the rules at the last moment.
Both Sakkari and Garcia, who received byes, are ranked lower than Swiatek, raising questions about the fairness of the performance byes rule.
As of now, Reuters has reached out to the WTA for a comment on the matter. The perspectives and opinions of various players reflect the ongoing discussions and debates within the tennis community regarding the implementation and fairness of the performance byes rule.