John McEnroe identifies what could be the key factor for Iga Swiatek’s US Open title defence
John McEnroe feels that the speed of the courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center could be crucial to determining whether Iga Swiatek can defend her crown in New York.
McEnroes assessed that overall Swiatek had done a remarkable job of staving off attempts to knock her off the top spot.
He believes that her tournament wins on hard courts have raised expectations for Swiatek adding another layer of pressure to being the top player in the world.
McEnroe believes there will also be renewed hope of an American winner from the women’s draw thanks to Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff becoming WTA 1000 champions in the lead up to the tournament.
The seven-time Grand Slam winner believes that a slower US Open court would suit Swiatek.
“The dominance is extremely hard to keep up obviously,” McEnroe said as per Eurosport.
“You saw three male players share everything. Rafa, Novak and Roger. This whole situation was unusual from the beginning because Ash Barty retired and all of a sudden Swiatek was anointed No. 1.
“She did an incredible job for a while and then she proved she could win on hard court surfaces. Now obviously there is a lot more expected and more pressure. For the most part she’s done a great job. The fact that she is No. 1 obviously with other players it would be a huge win to beat her.
“People in the America are hoping that players like Pegula, very consistent, and Gauff, she’s got incredible upside, that was the first time that she had even won a set off her in eight or nine times.
“I think the court from what I heard was playing pretty quick [in Cincinnati]. I’m not exactly sure what it’s going to be at the US Open.
“If it’s slower the court would help her a little bit. If it’s faster it would probably help some of the other players a little more. That remains to be seen but I think overall she’s doing a great job.”
McEnroe believes that the race for No 1 between Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and Swiatek will captivate in New York.
“Sabalenka came through and won her first major [2023 Australian Open] so she’s more confident than ever,” McEnroe said.
“But it’s still pretty unpredictable what is going to happen. Some of it is going to depend on the draw and see what plays out. Both players will feel that pressure to finish that tournament and year as No. 1 so this tournament could determine the No.1 ranking which is exciting for the sport.”
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