Iga Swiatek - Roland Garros 2023

Iga Swiatek calls out French crowd after ‘intense’ victory

Iga Swiatek has kept herself alive at Roland Garros after saving a match point to beat Naomi Osaka, but despite her victory the Pole appeared frustrated with the crowd on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Swiatek beat Osaka, 7-6(1) 1-6 7-5, after claiming the last five consecutive games to extend her winning streak to 14 matches.

After coming out as the victor, Swiatek described her feelings on the match, “This match was really intense. Much more intense for a second round than I expected. I’ll be more ready next time.

“Naomi played amazing tennis with really loose hands, and sometimes risking a lot. She played really great tennis and maybe she’s going to be a clay-court specialist in a while. I’m happy that she’s back and playing well.”

Although the world No.1 is now into the third round, she wanted to address the crowd in her on-court interview after some fans appeared to shout out during points.

“I’m sorry to even bring this [up],” Swiatek said politely into the microphone. “I have huge respect for you guys [the fans] and I know that we are basically playing for you because this is entertainment and we’re also earning money because of you.”

The three-time Roland Garros champion continued, “But sometimes under a lot of pressure, when you scream something during the rally or right before the return, it’s really hard to be focused. I usually don’t bring this up because I want to be the kind of player who is in the zone and focused. But this is serious for us, we are fighting our whole lives to be better and better, and sometimes it’s hard to accept that, because the stakes are big and there is a lot of money here to win, so losing a few points may change a lot.

“Please guys, if you can support us between the rallies but not during, that would be really amazing. I hope you’re still going to like me, because I know that the French crowd might get some players that they don’t like and then boo, but I love you guys and I always love playing here, so let’s continue that.”

Unsurprisingly, Swiatek was further questioned about this during her press conference and the 22-year-old explained what caused her to make these comments.

“I got the most frustrated when I missed that drop volley. Somebody shouted when the ball was flying to me,” revealed Swiatek. “I knew that I should be more focused and not let this distract me, but sometimes it’s hard, because in tennis we’re used to the stadium being silent during the point.

“It happened more times, especially before the returns, and that’s why I wanted to speak out about it, because if it would happen one time, I would just let it go.”

She added, “I know the French crowd is enthusiastic. Yeah, but for now in tennis we have these kind of rules that there should be, like, more silence in the audience, and I just wanted to point out that it’s not easy for us.”

Swiatek is not the first player to criticise the behaviour of the crowds at Roland Garros this year, with ATP pro David Goffin revealing that someone had spat chewing gum at him during the first round.

Later on in the press conference, Swiatek suggested that these comments may bring her under fire in matches to come at the Paris major, “I know that French crowds can be kind of harsh, so I don’t want to be under the radar right now. So, yeah, I don’t know if that was a good decision or not, but I hope they can treat me as a human and just we can kind of work on it.”

After coming through a three hour battle with Osaka, Swiatek will now move onto play the winner of Marie Bouzkova and lucky loser Jana Fett.

Inside the baseline…

This is a very tricky subject to tackle, and it was brave of Iga Swiatek to address the crowd after she felt aggrieved during some points in the thrilling and very tight match with Naomi Osaka. Crowds being excited and loud are great, especially for matches during Grand Slams where the eyes of the world are watching, but when it comes to the detriment of the players competing then that is not acceptable.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.