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French fans may be more ready for UTS than Swiatek is

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Bren Gray

This year’s Roland-Garros has shown that perhaps Iga Swiatek is not ready for UTS.

The Pole defeated Naomi Osaka in an epic three set clash in the tournament’s second round, prevailing 7-6(1), 1-6, 7-5 and saving a match point on her way to victory.

However, it was Swiatek’s comments on the Parisian crowd’s behaviour that took centre stage on Wednesday afternoon.

“Sometimes, you know, when you’re under a lot of pressure and you scream something during the rally or right before the return, it’s really, really hard to be focused,” the top seed said to spectators at Court Philippe-Chatrier on-court after the match.

“I usually don’t bring this up because I want to be this kind of player that is really in the zone and really focused,” Swiatek said. “But this is serious for us, we’re fighting our whole lives to be better and better and sometimes it’s hard to accept that. The stakes are big, and there’s a lot of money here to win. 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, really amazing.”

UTS a contrast to traditional tennis

If Swiatek struggled with the occasional call-out during her match against Osaka, then UTS would be an entirely different ball game for her.

The format’s rules allow members of the crowd to do whatever they like during points. Fans can get up, walk around, call out, cheer, sing songs–the polar opposite to traditional tennis.

UTS Founder Patrick Mouratoglou says that the format is intentionally designed this way to emulate the more engaging atmosphere’s of sports like basketball. 

“I think the fan experience is really, really good,” he said. “People are clapping, shouting, dancing, waving. They are into it fully. And you hear it. When you hear their voice, you know, they are totally into it.”

While Swiatek may well find the transition a challenging one, perhaps her opponent Osaka would be a little more at home.

“I thought the crowd was really cool,” Osaka said in her post-match interview. “For me, I feel like those are the moments I live for.”

“Also, it just makes me feel like the crowd is having fun, and I think at the end of the day that’s what I want the most. I want people to be, like, no matter if I won or lost they said, ‘Oh, I watched the match and I had a great time.’”

“For me, I didn’t have a problem with the crowd at all. But I’m also used to the New York crowd.”

The next time fans will get the opportunity to experience this UTS energy is the week before the US Open. UTS New York takes place from August 22 to 23, featuring players such as Nick Kyrgios, Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud.