Iga Swiatek has a conundrum!
Only the eagle-eyed will have spotted the rather odd situation that former world no.1 Iga Swiatek found herself in at this year’s US Open.
In sport ‘money talks’, whereas in tennis ‘money and Roger talks’! And seemingly that’s what happened earlier this year when Polish superstar Iga Swiatek announced she was ditching long term partner ASICS in favour of the Swiss based, Roger Federer backed sports shoe brand ON Running.
In itself this move may not seem that much of a shock as ON will certainly have deep enough pockets when it comes to player endorsement, they sold over $1billion of shoes last year, and with Federer on board as an investor and ambassador they’ll be targeting significant growth in the tennis market with their ‘Roger’ tennis shoe collection. Add to that the move Swiatek made last year to be managed by giant IMG instead of her own smaller Polish agency, the change in footwear and clothing sponsor doesn’t stand out as being that strange of a decision.
Now fast forward to this month’s US Open and Swiatek is pictured practising on the Flushing Meadow courts sporting a shiny white pair of ON tennis shoes picked from the ‘Roger collection’. This was the first time she’d been spotted wearing ON tennis shoes as prior to New York she’d carried on wearing her ASICS trainers, whilst sporting ON branded apparel from the moment she joined them. Again no surprise as tennis shoes are a hugely important and technical part of any pro players armoury and maybe it was taking time for Swiatek to get used to the ON trainer.
But this is where the questions start to be asked as Swiatek then stepped onto the match court to play her first round against Rebeca Peterson not wearing her ON tennis shoes she’d just been practising in but with a pair of ASICS Gel-Resolution 9 tennis trainers on her feet!
If the ON shoes are good enough to practise in then why isn’t Swiatek wearing them to play matches in? And why would a player as meticulous as Swiatek want to completely change shoes between practise and matchplay. Would a player use one racket brand for practise just before a match and then turn up on court with a completely different racket from another manufacturer?
Our guess is that she’s not yet confident enough in the ON tennis shoe to wear them in the pressure cauldron of a Grand Slam match and is waiting for the shoe to be developed to a level that she’s happy to use them during matches.
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