Iga Swiatek joins row over US Open tennis balls: ‘They’re horrible’

·3-min read
Iga Swiatek has criticised the use of a lighter ball for women at the US Open  (Getty Images)
Iga Swiatek has criticised the use of a lighter ball for women at the US Open (Getty Images)

Iga Swiatek has described the balls at the US Open as “horrible” amid a continuing row over the use of different types of balls for men and women in New York.

The year’s final grand slam is the only one of tennis’ four major events to issue different versions of the ball for the men’s and women’s competitions.

The men use Wilson’s extra duty balls at Flushing Meadows, while the women use the faster, more aerodynamic Wilson US Open regular duty balls that have a thinner and less fluffy covering.

A number of prominent female players have criticised the balls, suggesting that their weight causes more errors, particuarly after the softening impacts of several games on outdoor hard courts.

Swiatek believes that the continued usage of the lighter Wilson is detrimental to the product.

“I think those balls are horrible,” Swiatek, the French Open champion and world number one, said during the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. “Especially after three games of really hard playing, they are getting more and more light.

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

“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.

“We make more mistakes, for sure. So I don’t think that’s really nice to watch.

“I feel it’s really hard to control them, but everybody has the same conditions, so we are trying to deal with that. I don’t get why they are different, honestly.”

Swiatek then concluded with a smile while leaving her press conference: “You’ve just started a war.”

In January, Ashleigh Barty’s coach, Craig Tyzzer, suggested that the now-retired Australian player would be unable to win the US Open while lighter balls were used, hinting that he felt it played a part in Emma Raducanu’s shock maiden grand slam victory as a wildcard in New York.

Jessica Pegula, the top-ranked American player ahead of her home grand slam, agreed with Swiatek’s assessment that it was increasing the error count and advocated switching to the ball used by the men

“I feel like the first couple weeks there are a lot of double faults, because the balls are just kind of flying a bit more,” Pegula explained, before suggesting she saw no reason.

“I’m personally not a huge fan. I don’t see why we couldn’t switch to extra duty. I played with them when I’m at home or when I can’t find any balls. They just don’t fly as much.

“But it’s easier said than done, so hopefully the player council can work on that.”

The regular duty balls are also used in mixed doubles competition at the US Open.

While Swiatek and Pegula would prefer a switch, both two-time grand slam winner Petra Kvitova and Madison Keys, finalist in New York in 2017, have noted that they prefer the lighter version.

A statement from the United States Tennis Association (USTA), who run the major at Flushing Meadows, suggested it was up to the WTA Tour and player councils to decide if a change should be made.

“A number of factors are considered in these decisions, and the USTA will continue to follow the recommendations of the tours and their player councils to determine which balls are utilised during the US Open,” the USTA said.