Iga Swiatek calls out tournaments, reveals 'bigger issue' than constant ball changes

Swiatek made an interesting complaint following her Indian Wells semifinal win over Marta Kostyuk.

by Dzevad Mesic
Iga Swiatek calls out tournaments, reveals 'bigger issue' than constant ball changes
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Iga Swiatek says the constant ball changes aren't actually the biggest ball-related problem the players are facing as the world No. 1 claims the players often do not get enough of tournament balls for practice. 

Since early 2023, numerous players across the ATP and WTA have complained about the constant ball changes, with many blaming that for the increased number of injuries. At the start of the 2024 season, nothing changed in that aspect as there is a good number of players still complaining about the constant ball changes. 

But in Indian Wells, four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek went a step further, claiming that "a bigger issue" is players usually not getting enough practice balls - which makes it harder for them to adjust to the ball used at a certain tournament. 

"For sure, adjusting to the balls, it's the most important thing, and to the surface, it's the most important thing in our sport. The one that is going to adapt quicker is going to play better," Swiatek said. 

"We always had the Penn balls here, the ones we couldn't really get to practice. I think this is the bigger issue, that we don't get the tournament ball. I mean, I think I got one box.

"So I don't want to be mean, but usually, overall, when we look at the calendar, usually the balls that you're going to get, there's going to be a limited amount. The pros use, you know, for two-hour practice, I don't know, like six cans at least. You're not going to use these balls again, because you need to play with the new ones.

"Sometimes we struggle with not having enough balls, you know, to do, I don't know, the whole preseason with AO balls. I think this is the thing that should be changed first, because it's pretty easy, I think. We can buy it, you know, there's just not enough balls for us to have, the tournament balls (smiling). So not many people are aware that we don't play with the balls that you can see in store."

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Graham Denholm

Swiatek on 'the much different' Indian Wells balls

This week, Emma Raducanu complained that the balls used in Indian Wells are "heavy" and different from the ones that they are going to use in Miami. When making that complaint, Raducanu noted that heavy balls and constant ball changes only increase the possibility of a player contracting a wrist injury or some other injury. 

When complaining about the lack of practice balls, Swiatek also mentioned that the balls used in Indian Wells are especially tricky since they are "much different" from the balls used in other tournaments. Also, the 22-year-old Pole revealed that she is not sure even if they are playing with the balls used by men in Indian Wells. 

"Here it was always pretty tricky. The balls were always much different than in other tournaments," Swiatek said.

"But I got used to them. I'm not sure exactly if we play right now with men's ball, because Taylor Fritz at the beginning of the tournament told me that he thinks that they play with women's. So I'm confused. But I don't care. I like the ball.

"I would say here it's more about the air and the conditions anyway. So I'm doing fine, and there is no point for me to overanalyze that."

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Swiatek is doing great in Indian Wells this year

The ball conditions in Indian Wells may not be the best but that's not a problem for Swiatek, who has been through to her second final in the desert after beating Marta Kostyuk 6-2 6-1 on Friday. 

After Kostyuk served out the opening game of the match, Swiatek claimed back-to-back breaks in the third and fifth games en route to winning five games in a row for a 5-1 lead. In the seventh game, Kostyuk held to her serve to end Swiatek's run of five consecutive games but it didn't change much since the Pole routinely served out for the first set in the following game.

Up by a set, Swiatek also started the second set with a 4-0 lead before breaking Kostyuk again in the seventh game of the second set - when the Ukrainian was serving to stay in the match.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Swiatek, who hasn't dropped a set so far this year in Indian Wells, will be playing against world No. 9 Maria Sakkari for the Indian Wells title on Sunday. The last time these two met happened in Indian Wells two years ago - and it was in the final - when Swiatek crushed Sakkari 6-4 6-1. 

Sakkari owns a 4-3 head-to-head against Swiatek but they haven't played in two years and there is no doubt that the Pole enters the Indian Wells final as the favorite.

Iga Swiatek Indian Wells Marta Kostyuk