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“Purely instinctual behaviour… not proud that sometimes I’m not in control of what I do on the court”: Swiatek on hand-waving incident
Swiatek also talks about her long season and why she needs a long vacation after next week’s WTA Finals in Texas
Iga Swiatek has been a role model in recent times on the women’s tour. A dominant world No 1 – winning two of the four Majors of the season and eight titles in all – and someone who is learning to step into her shoes as a leader off the court as well.
The 21-year-old’s game, work ethic and attitude has earned her many fans across the globe, but the Pole did come under fire recently for waving her hands at the net during the San Diego final as her opponent Donna Vekic was about to hit a shot. Although she did apologise to Vekic on social media, fans on the internet were quick to point out that this wasn’t the first time that Swiatek had done something of this sort.
Now, in an interview to Sport.pl, the Pole opened up about the incident, saying that she is aware of the negative reactions around the hand-waving but clarified that it was purely instinctual behaviour and something that she hopes to avoid doing in the future.
“I can’t control it, but I hope it will never happen again. We are working on it,” Swiatek said. “It is a stress reaction to what is happening. It is an involuntary reaction. I did it during the US Open, and as I recall it was a stressful moment. In San Diego, I did it unconsciously. Right after the game I approached Donna and apologised. She had no hard feelings, it turned out she didn’t recall this at all. I hope fans will understand me as well. I’m aware of the many negative comments on the internet concerning this incident. I’m not proud of the fact, that sometimes I’m not in control of what I do on the court. It’s a purely instinctual behaviour. Maybe I’ve seen one too many football games, and taken notice of what goalies do during penalty shots (laughs).”
With 64 wins out of 72 matches, Swiatek says that it has been a long season for her and that the physical and mental toll is not always visible to those on the outside.
“I’m playing since January. To this day, I have completed 72 matches on different continents. It’s starting to take its toll on my head and my legs,” she continued. “Now I feel that each next tournament is very demanding, physically. It becomes harder and harder to stay focused and energised. Ostrava and San Diego were the hardest, so far. Even though I had a good time-zone change going to San Diego – it’s better to travel east-to-west than the other way around, I still found it exhausting. I had a cold – that didn’t help, so I’m very proud to have kept a high level of performance despite those obstacles. “
If Ons Jabeur took me into the third set, I think I would have a hard time winningSwiatek
Swiatek, who will end her season at next week’s WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, said she had a much tougher time after her US Open win compared to her French Open triumph and was unable to sleep well once the adrenaline wore off.
“During such an event there is a lot of stress. It is not until the end that you start to realise how hard it was,” Swiatek added. “When you no longer are obliged to perform, when the adrenaline fades away, and the excitement cools off – that’s when you feel it. The night after the final was very difficult. Suffering sleeplessly, I thought to myself, that there are athletes who experience such pain each time they perform, and I felt lucky that in tennis it rarely happens. I survived and it’s all good now, however that was one of the hardest moments this year. When this season is done, I need a long vacation to fully recover. I could tell the difference in fatigue between US Open and Roland Garros. If Ons Jabeur took me into the third set, I think I would have a hard time winning.”
“I have made this decision to ensure I can play next season healthy and injury-free” – Swiatek on skipping the BJK Cup Finals
After the WTA Finals, Swiatek will not play for Poland in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Glasgow and explained that she needed to take care of herself to be ready for the new season ahead and also send a message to the governing bodies, the WTA and the ITF, that something needs to change.
“I have made this decision to ensure I can play next season healthy and injury-free. I need to take care of myself. Playing in the BJKC would mean another time-zone change, this time the disadvantageous way around for the body. Also, a change in climate, from warm to cold. A change of surface, in rhythm, routine. All that would need to happen instantaneously.”
“The planning is very unfortunate and unfavorable for female tennis players. I can’t fathom why this is happening the second year in a row. This year, and the year before, you could see many players paying the price for trying to carry out such a dense schedule and competing in both tournaments. They have lost their top shape for several months afterward. I’m hoping next year, the WTA and ITF will improve their cooperation in terms of scheduling and locations of both tournaments. This degrades the level of the show. I understand it must be difficult to choose between various venues, cities, and which fans to please, but I still think that players, and therefore, the fans should be the top priority.”