Tennis legend John McEnroe has questioned Iga Swiatek over a controversial moment with world No. 1 at the US Open.
Swiatek was given her first test of the tournament by Lauren Davis on Saturday but won the last five games and triumphed 6-3, 6-4 in the third round.
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World No. 1 went on a blistering 37-match winning streak Earlier this year to capture titles at Roland Garros, Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.
However, she has lost four games 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 tried to distract her opponent during a rally.
After Swiatek hit an average half-volley that had Davis staring at an easy winner, Swiatek threw her arms in the air, apparently trying to throw her opponent off.
Though it didn’t work and Davis still managed to hit the winner, commentators were less than impressed.
“It’s something you do in junior tennis. You don’t do that when you’re number 1 in the world,” said a Eurosport commentator.
McEnroe later said, “I don’t know about that. I don’t think that’s legal… that’s a bit below the belt.
“The last time I saw that was when I played in 1986 I think and [Mansour] Bahrami came in and served, spreading his hands wide and saying, “Hit me.” And my partner Peter Fleming hit him in the forehead. And I said, ‘He’s a joke, that guy! I don’t understand what he’s doing. That 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 as good as it seems… but she’ll learn. She’s 21.”
Barbara Schett, a former world No. 7, added: “It’s a bit nervous, isn’t it? I remember Jo-Wilfried Tsonga used to do that, but it actually distracts the opponent.”
Fans were also quick to condemn the controversial tactic.
After three wins in a row in New York, Swiatek next meets the young German Jule Niemeier.
“I couldn’t find my rhythm today,” Swiatek said in her on-pitch interview.
“I try to enjoy every game, even if it’s not perfect. I just try to try. I try to find solutions in every situation.”
Niemeier reinforced her place in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon by finishing in the last 16 on her debut in the main draw in New York, beating China’s Zheng Qinwen 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
Azarenka and Kvitova both advance at the US Open
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova said she took inspiration from Serena Williams to defeat Spain’s Garbine Mugurza and reach the fourth round.
In a tense duel between the two former Grand Slam champions, Kvitova saved two match points to force a crucial tiebreak before eventually winning 5-7 6-3 7-6 (12-10) on Saturday.
“I didn’t want to get out of this tournament, so I was kind of stuck there,” said the Czech, who burst into tears at the end.
“She (Mugurza) also played aggressively. Me too… So I tried trying those first serves or aces.”
The three-time finalist Victoria Azarenka also won 6:3 and 6:0 over Petra Martic.
Last year’s US Open was all about the rise of teenagers Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez and Kvitova is happy the 30-year-old can assert themselves this time.
“I’m very happy for myself, for Vika (Azarenka) and this age,” said Kvitova.
“I think it’s good because we’ve been on the tour for so many years and I’m just glad we’ve still been able to make it and face the younger generation.
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