Iga Swiatek at centre of US Open controversy over 'illegal' act

Iga Swiatek, pictured here waving her arms in an apparent attempt to distract Lauren Davis.
Iga Swiatek waved her arms in an apparent attempt to distract Lauren Davis. Image: Getty/Eurosport

Tennis legend John McEnroe has called Iga Swiatek into question over a controversial moment involving the World No.1 at the US Open.

Swiatek was given her first test of the tournament by Lauren Davis on Saturday, but won the final five games to triumph 6-3 6-4 in their third-round clash.

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The World No.1 went on a blistering 37-match winning streak earlier this year to claim titles at Roland Garros, Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.

However she has lost four matches during the hard-court season, with question marks surrounding her form at Flushing Meadows.

She also raised eyebrows in the second set against Davis when she attempted to distract her opponent during a rally.

After Swiatek hit an average half-volley that left Davis staring at an easy winner, Swiatek threw her arms into the air in an apparent attempt to throw her opponent off.

Although it didn't work and Davis still managed to hit the winner, commentators were less than impressed.

"That's something that you do in juniors tennis. That's not something that you do if you're World No.1," one commentator said on Eurosport.

Iga Swiatek, pictured here in action at the US Open.
Iga Swiatek's controversial tactic has come under fire. Image: Eurosport

McEnroe later said: “I don’t know about that. I don’t think that’s legal…that is a little bit below the belt.

“The last time I saw that was when I was playing in 1986 I believe and [Mansour] Bahrami came in and served, and put his hands wide open and said, ‘Hit me’. And my partner Peter Fleming hit him in the forehead. And I said, ‘He’s a joke, this guy! I don’t understand what he’s doing. This is serious’.

“And Bahrami was like ‘Good shot Peter, good shot!’ He loved it. I don’t think Swiatek has to do that. She’s so good it seems…but she’ll learn. She’s 21.”

Barbara Schett, a former World No.7, added: “It’s a bit edgy isn’t it? I remember Jo-Wilfried Tsonga used to do that but it’s actually a distraction to the opponent.”

Fans were also quick to condemn the controversial tactic.

After three consecutive straight-sets wins in New York, Swiatek next faces young German Jule Niemeier.

"I couldn't find my rhythm today," Swiatek said in her on-court interview.

"I'm trying to enjoy every match even when it's not perfect. Just trying to go for it. Trying to find solutions in every situation."

Niemeier has backed up her run to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon by making the last 16 on her main-draw debut in New York, beating China's Zheng Qinwen 6-4 7-6 (7-5).

Azarenka and Kvitova both advance at US Open

Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova said she took inspiration from Serena Williams to defeat Spain's Garbine Mugurza to reach the fourth round.

A tense clash between the two former grand slam champions saw Kvitova save two match points to force a deciding tiebreak, before eventually winning on Saturday 5-7 6-3 7-6 (12-10).

"I didn't want to go out of this tournament, so I was just there hanging somehow," the Czech, who was in tears at the end, said.

"She (Mugurza) was playing aggressively, as well. Me too ... So I was trying to go for it with these first serves or for aces."

Three-time finalist Victoria Azarenka also eased to a 6-3 6-0 victory over Petra Martic.

Last year's US Open was all about the rise of the teenagers in Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez, and Kvitova is pleased to see the 30-somethings holding their own this time.

"I'm very happy for me, for Vika (Azarenka), and this kind of age," Kvitova said.

"I feel like it's good because we are on the tour so many years, and I'm just happy that we could still manage it and face the young generation.

with AAP

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