Meet Elena Rybakina’s coach Stefano Vukov ahead of the 23-year-old’s exciting Wimbledon semi-final matchup with Simona Halep.
Elena Rybakina is into the semi-finals at Wimbledon, making it her best ever run at a Grand Slam event. The Russian-born Kazakhstani player reached the quarter-finals at the 2021 French Open, and managed to go one better after beating Ajla Tomljanović in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Rybakina is the current Kazakhstani female No. 1 player in singles and the 17th seed at the All-England Club this year.
She has a career-high ranking of world No. 12 and first made a name for herself on the WTA Tour in 2019. She won her maiden WTA Tour title at the Bucharest Open, a month after turning 20 years old, and soon after made the final at the Jiangxi International Open.
In 2020, the 23-year-old reached the finals at four of her first five events. She defeated Zhang Shuai to win her second WTA title at the Hobart International but lost in her other finals that year.
Elena Rybakina’s parents and upbringing
Elena was born on 17 June 1999 in Moscow, Russia and was introduced to sports from an early age. She dabbled in gymnastics and ice-skating with her sister Anna but due to her height – she is 1.84m (6ft 0in) – she was deemed to be too tall.
At the age of six she was introduced to tennis by her father as he was interested in the sport. She quickly rose up the junior rankings and became the world no.3 before turning professional in 2016.
Up until that point Elena had represented Russia internationally but in 2018 she decided to represent Kazakhstan, her adopted country. She elected to represent Kazakhstan because of the faith they had put into her during the formative stages of her career.
Who is Elena Rybakina’s coach, Stefano Vukov?
At an early age Elena moved from the Dynamo Sports Club to the Spartak Tennis Club and worked with several coaches. She trained with former top-10 player Andrey Chesnokov and former top-100 player Evgenia Kulikovskaya.
Andrey Chesnokov worked with her until 2019. Elena Rybakina’s coach then became Stefano Vukov, who still works with her today.
Stefano Yukov is a former Croatian tennis player who played in various ITF Men’s World Tennis events as well as the ITF Futures Tour. He was born on 27 March 1987 and reached a career-high singles ranking of world no.1122.
Stefano has also won 12 tennis tournaments, including professional ITF, ATP, and Davis Cup victories in his career. Under his tutelage Elena has become one of the top women’s players in the sport. He has taken her game to the next level and enabled her to compete in Grand Slams against the very best.
Her run to the Wimbledon semi-finals
Elena has been on an impressive run to get to this year’s Wimbledon semi-finals.
In the first round she beat American CoCo Vandeweghe in straight sets. She followed that up with an excelled win over Canada’s Bianca Andreescu.
In the third round Rybakina overcame China’s Qinwen Zheng and in the Round of 16 beat Petra Martić. Elena then battled past Australian Ajla Tomljanović in the quarters to set up the semi-final tie with Halep.
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