Reigning BNP Paribas Open Champion Elena Rybakina Withdraws Due to Illness

Reigning BNP Paribas Open Champion Elena Rybakina Withdraws Due to Illness

Elena Rybakina Withdraws from BNP Paribas Open Title Defense Due to Illness

World No. 4 Elena Rybakina has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open, the first WTA 1000 event of the season, due to illness. The reigning champion was set to begin her title defense on Friday but was forced to pull out hours before her first match.

Rybakina's withdrawal is a significant blow to the tournament, as she entered as the tour's leader in wins this year with 17. She had won titles in Adelaide and Abu Dhabi and reached the final in Doha.

Last year, Rybakina stunned the tennis world by defeating world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinals and Aryna Sabalenka in the final to claim her first WTA 1000 title. Her victory made her the first Kazakh player to win a WTA 1000 event.

Rybakina expressed her disappointment at having to withdraw, saying, "It's with great sadness that I have to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open. Those close to me know how much this tournament means to me and how much I wanted to come back and defend my title."

Prakash Amritraj, a former Indian tennis player and commentator, said Rybakina's withdrawal is a "massive void in the draw" and a "massive opportunity for players in her section."

Rybakina's withdrawal has led to a reshuffling of the draw. Argentina's Nadia Podoroska, who was originally scheduled to face Rybakina, will now face American Kayla Day. The match will be played on Stadium 3.

The all-American second-round match between Madison Keys and Hailey Baptiste has been moved to Stadium 1 and will be played not before 8:00 p.m. local time.

Tags: #BNPParibasOpen, #ElenaRybakina, #WTA1000, #Tennis, #TitleDefense

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