Reigning world No. 1 and two-time major champion Iga Swiatek called the balls used at the US Open “terrible” during a press conference at the Western & Southern Open this week and questioned why women and men play tennis majors differently use balls . It is the only Grand Slam tournament in which the same balls are not used for all players.
“I don’t know why they are different from the men’s,” Swiatek said on Wednesday. “I don’t know, 15 years ago women probably had some elbow injuries because the balls were heavier and they converted them to women’s balls, but at the moment we’re so well prepared physically that I don’t think it would happen. Also, we can’t get these balls in Europe, or if we buy them in store, they’re totally different from the tournament balls, so when I’m practicing at home with US Open balls [in Poland]I practice with men…
“I feel like it’s really hard to control [the women’s balls], but all have the same conditions, so let’s try to deal with it. I don’t understand why they are different, honestly.”
The balls are also used during lead-in swing, including the Western & Southern Open and last week’s Canadian Open. Swiatek, who was on a 37-game winning streak earlier this season, lost to Madison Keys in the round of 16 in Cincinnati on Thursday and was eliminated in the same round in Toronto.
Players have complained about the difference between themselves, Swiatek said, and she and Paula Badosa, currently ranked 4th, spoke to WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon last year and asked if they could switch to the same ball as the men to use.
“I don’t think it would be a problem because it’s still the same company, it’s Wilson, but yeah maybe we should push a little bit more,” Swiatek said. “I stopped really pushing and trying to convince the WTA because the war happened in Ukraine and I focused on something else. Yes, but honestly, every tournament I’ve played with these balls hasn’t made me feel good.”
In a statement to ESPN, WTA senior vice president of global communications Amy Binder said the organization is listening to players’ concerns and will continue to investigate the matter.
“The WTA has always used regular felt balls for hard court games, and we’ve now begun to hear from a select number of our athletes that they would consider switching to using the extra-duty ball,” said Binder. “The reason for using the regular felt ball was that it limits the risk of arm, shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries. This is something we will continue to monitor and discuss further with both our athletes and our sports science teams .”
Swiatek is not the first to publicly express her displeasure with the ball disparity. Longtime coach of former world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Craig Tyzzer told reporters after her win at the Australian Open earlier this year that Barty would never win the US Open with the current balls. Barty has since retired from tennis.
“The US Open really needs to change the ball for the girls, the fact that they’re still using a different ball for boys and girls is a terrible ball for someone like Ash,” Tyzzer said in January. “It was the only tournament in the last year and really two years that she’s been using a gut racket, but I had to swap her out for a poly just to have some kind of control of the ball. If they keep the ball, nobody like Ash will win this tournament.
“I think you see the result at the US Open, it was two players like, ‘Wow that was, two different players won that?’ It’s no surprise when the ball is the way it is.”
Five of the previous seven US Open women’s champions, including reigning champion Emma Raducanu, were first-time major winners. The US Open 2022 starts on August 29 in New York with Swiatek as the top seed.
https://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/34425055/top-ranked-iga-swiatek-questions-why-us-open-uses-different-tennis-balls-men-women Top-ranked Iga Swiatek questions why US Open still uses different tennis balls for men and women