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World No. 1 Iga Swiatek Questions US Open Using Different Balls for Men, Women

Adam WellsAugust 19, 2022

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Iga Swiatek is unhappy with the U.S. Open's decision to have the men and women use different balls for this year's tournament.

Speaking to reporters during the Western & Southern Open this week, Swiatek called the balls "horrible" and questioned why there needs to be a difference between them at all anymore:

"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. Plus we can't get those balls in Europe, or actually, when we buy them at store, they are totally different than the tournament balls, so when I'm practicing with US Open balls at home [in Poland], I'm practicing with men's ones..."

The world's top-ranked player went on to say she finds it "really hard to control" the women's balls.

The U.S. Open is the only Grand Slam event that uses a different ball for men's and women's matches.

In 2012, the United States Tennis Association (h/t Joseph Hall and Wendy Gillis of the Toronto Star) said in a statement the men's and women's balls are the same "in terms of size, pressure and design."

According to the USTA, the only difference is the men use an extra-felt-duty ball and the women use a regular-duty felt ball.

Bob Bryan, a 23-time Grand Slam doubles champion, told John Jeansonne of Newsday in 2012 the less-felted ball could add "probably five, six miles" per hour on each hit and "it flies a lot more; you can shape it a lot more."

In January, shortly after her victory at the Australian Open, Ashleigh Barty's coach, Craig Tyzzer, told reporters she would probably never win the U.S. Open to complete the career Grand Slam because of the balls. Barty announced her retirement from tennis in March.

Amy Binder, the WTA's senior vice president of global communications, told ESPN's D'Arcy Maine the organization will explore the matter in the wake of players voicing their concerns.

Swiatek, 21, became the fourth-youngest player ever to win multiple French Open titles with her victory over Coco Gauff in the final at Roland Garros in June. She will be competing in the U.S. Open for the fourth time. The Poland native hasn't advanced past the fourth round in her previous three appearances.

The 2022 U.S. Open will begin on Aug. 29 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

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