Italian Open tennis star calls opponent a ‘b***h’ before awkward handshake

Things got a little heated at the Italian Open on Friday after one of the semi-finalists was accused of calling the other a "f***ing b****".

Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina beat Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets to seal her place in Saturday's final, but left the court in a huff after tempers had flared earlier in the match.

Rybakina, 23, had called for a break in play during the second set following a bout of light drizzle, much to the frustration of Ostapenko, 25, who wanted to play on, sparking a brief verbal scuffle between the pair.

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Precisely what was said wasn't immediately obvious, though courtside microphones picked up Rybakina's coach, Stefano Vukov, claiming Ostapenko had verbally abused her opponent.

"She told her you're a b***h in front of me right now. And I say, listen, after we talk," he was heard explaining to someone in the stands.

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Rybakina finished Ostapenko off shortly after play resumed, and the two exchanged a few words and shared a flinchingly-frosty handshake at the net before trudging off court.

After the match, Rybakina refused to disclose what she and Ostapenko had said to one another, choosing instead to focus on her upcoming clash against Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina in Saturday's showpiece.

World No. 6 Rybakina is one of tennis' hottest prospects. She secured her first Grand Slam singles title by winning Wimbledon last year, beating Tunisia's Ons Jabeur in the final.

The Russian-born Kazakh's victory was a somewhat ironic one given that the All England Club had banned all Russian athletes from competing at the tournament in light of the country's invasion of Ukraine.


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