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Defending champion Rybakina pulls out of Rome with illness

ROME — Ahead of her first-round match scheduled for Friday, defending champion Elena Rybakina withdrew from the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, citing a illness.

Rybakina, the No.4 seed, was set to face Irina-Camelia Begu on Court Centrale.

“I am disappointed to have to withdraw from Rome this year, but unfortunately I do not feel well enough to compete,” Rybakina said in a statement. “I have such good memories from last year and was looking forward to defending my title. 

Champions Reel: How Elena Rybakina won Rome 2023

“Rome is so special to me, and I look forward to being back next year to reclaim my title and play in front of the Italian fans.”

Last year, Rybakina pulled together one of the strongest performances of her season with a run to the title in Rome. The 24-year-old from Kazakhstan defeated top-ranked Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals before prevailing over Jelena Ostapenko and securing an abbreviated win against an injured Anhelina Kalinina in the final.

This is the second time this season Rybakina has withdrawn from an event as the defending champion. In March, she withdrew from Indian Wells, also citing a gastrointestinal illness. 

This year, Rybakina has captured three titles, matching Swiatek for the most on tour. She boasts a 30-5 record in 2024.

Rybakina will be replaced by lucky loser Oceane Dodin.

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