Top-ranked Swiatek must overcome U.S. Open ball concerns

3 minute read

Tennis - Exhibition Tennis Match in support of Ukraine - Tauron Arena, Krakow, Poland - July 23, 2022 Poland's Iga Swiatek Jakub Porzycki/Agencja via REUTERS

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Aug 24 (Reuters) - Iga Swiatek is the favourite to win this year's U.S. Open where the balls being used for women's matches could possibly give the Polish world number one more trouble than any opponent she faces at the year's final Grand Slam.

Swiatek recently hit out at the U.S. Open balls, suggesting the lighter ones used for women's matches are tougher to control than those used by her male counterparts and therefore present a disadvantage to harder-hitting players like herself.

The U.S. Open, which starts on Monday in New York, is the only major that uses different balls for men and women and they featured at recent North American hardcourt tournaments where Swiatek lost at the last-16 stage in two consecutive events.

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"Basically the thing is that they are lighter. They fly like crazy," Swiatek said last week in Cincinnati. "You know, we have really powerful games right now. It's not like 10 years ago -except Serena, girls, I think they played slower, right?

"Right now we play powerful, and we kind of can't loosen up our hands with these balls. I know that there are many players who complain, and many of them are top 10."

The twice French Open champion, whose best U.S. Open result came last year when she reached the fourth round, also felt the style of tennis on display when more powerful hitters like herself use lighter balls is less attractive.

"We make more mistakes, for sure. So I don't think if that's like really nice to watch visually," said Swiatek, who had a 37-match winning streak this year. "I don't know why they are different than men's ones.

"I don't know - like 15 years ago probably women had some elbow injuries because the balls were heavier and they changed them to women's balls, but right now we are so physically well prepared that I don't think it would happen."

Swiatek is not alone in her views as world number four Paula Badosa backed her comments while the coach of since-retired Ash Barty said in January the Australian would never complete a career Grand Slam unless U.S. Open organisers opted for a different ball.

"Those balls are horrible, especially after like three games of really hard playing, they are getting more and more light," said Swiatek.

"At the end, you can't even, you know, serve like 170 kilometers per hour because you know it's going to fly like crazy. Yeah, I think they are pretty bad. Sorry."

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Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris

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