Emma Raducanu warns of ‘really bad’ problem in tennis as Iga Swiatek adds to her argument

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu stepping up her comeback
Emma Raducanu stepping up her comeback

Iga Swiatek has waded into the debate over the different tennis balls being used at events around the world, following comments from Emma Raducanu suggesting the issue was a threat to the health of players.

The Penn balls being used at Indian Wells have been fluffing up quickly, with players in the men’s and women’s draws complaining about the key tool they are being asked to play with.

Next week’s Miami Open will use different balls once again, as Dunlop balls will be in play.

Other tournaments in recent weeks have used Wilson tennis balls and Raducanu believes the challenge of getting used to balls that are heavier in one event compared to the next is a threat to her health after she underwent double wrist surgery last year.

“The conditions are very different in Indian Wells compared to Miami,” said Raducanu.

“It’s very humid. The balls are very heavy. They are different, which I don’t think is great for any of the players’ wrists, but especially mine.

“I honestly think it’s really bad for us, the way that we have to switch balls every single week and especially when you’ve gone through surgeries.

“I know a lot of players who are struggling with wrist problems, too.

“I don’t understand why every other sport is pretty much the same, whereas in tennis it’s different week to week.”

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Men’s world No 1 Novak Djokovic has also spoken out about the changing tennis ball issue in recent years and now women’s world No 1 Iga Swiatek has opened up in the challenges she encounters at each event.

Getting used to a new ball is clearly a big issue for players, especially if they are struggling to get an allocation of balls prior to starting their first match.

“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,” said Swiatek.

“The one that is going to adapt quicker is going to play better.

“We always had 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 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 having not 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. So not many people are aware that we don’t play with the balls that you can see in store.

“Here it was always pretty tricky. The balls were always much different than in other tournaments, 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.”

This ongoing issue remains a big talking point in tennis and while each tournament has deals with ball manufacturers, there are growing calls from the biggest names in the game to reduce the amount of ball changes from week to week.