Iga Swiatek backs WTA in contentious performance bye rule change

Iga Swiatek in action
Iga Swiatek reacts during her match

World No 2 Iga Swiatek has thrown her weight behind the return of the performance byes for the Asian Swing.

Swiatek feels that the performance byes, which award first round passage to players reaching the semi-finals the week before, are a great way to offset a tough travel schedule.

She was asked about the initiative after her opening win in Beijing, with Swiatek offering her support for the initiative, which has been criticised by Aryna Sabalenka and Elina Rybakina.

“I have not spoken much about this rule because these are the first events that I dispute in which this kind of thing is happening, although we have already travelled a long calendar,” Swiatek said.

“I think it’s a smart thing; when I had tournaments where I went a lot of depth, then I know what it means to rush to the next one without time to rest and prepare.”

Swiatek says that she doesn’t feel that top seeds are entitled to byes at any tournament but understands that some players have found the changes jarring.

The Pole feels that playing an extra match just gives her another to win.

“I think the rule is fine, it makes sense; it’s just striking to see that some favourites don’t have a Bye. I know there has been some misunderstanding, a bit of a scandal, but I just want to focus on my tennis. I don’t care if I have to play one more game, for me it’s another chance to play and win. I really don’t care if I play another game or not.”

Swiatek said that she doesn’t feel under pressure to win any tournaments at this stage of her career.

“I don’t think I can answer you specifically,” Swiatek said when asked about her chances of winning another Grand Slam soon.

“Um, as soon as possible? Well for sure, I think I need a couple of more years to play on grass… so, I’m not rushing you know. I’m 22, so I still have a lot of time probably, more than like 10 years. So I’m doing my best to win every tournament I play at. But yeah, I’m not rushing it because I’ve already won four Slams.”

Sabalenka believes that the performance byes aren’t an appropriate solution if they take away byes from players who have earned them through their ranking.

She believes it is wrong for an WTA 500 semi-final run to grant a player a bye in a WTA 1000 event.

“I knew because they sent an email before, everyone knew about the performance bye, but I didn’t understand it. I thought they were like extra byes. I do not understand that. Players who have byes for having played semi-finals in a lower tournament receive a bye in a 1000 tournament, I don’t understand it. I think you have to earn those byes.”

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