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Tennis

Iga Swiatek Lightened The Load

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FLUSHING, N.Y. — There are a lot of finer details to appreciate in Iga Swiatek’s performance on Thursday, as she won her U.S. Open semifinal over Aryna Sabalenka 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to extend the best season in recent WTA history. There’s the way she dug her two-handed backhand out of the corner with Djokovician flexibility, or blocked back would-be winners with neatly angled stabs. There’s her ability to grind her way through an improbable win when her A-game is nowhere in the vicinity, rallying back from two broken service games in the deciding set. And (because you’re reading this website) we must also hail the world No. 1’s groundbreaking honesty when it comes to the importance of No. 2:

Q: I was seeing tonight that the bathroom was a good place to go, because the both of you went in there and played pretty well after coming back. What did you tell yourself while you were in there?

A: It’s more what I did.

Q: OK, uh, sorry about that.

A: I kind of needed to go. Um … but, yeah, well …. for sure I felt lighter. Um … just, you know …. sorry that’s disgusting. [crowd cheering]

Recently the tennis bathroom break has come under scrutiny as a potentially underhanded momentum breaker, or opportunity for self–pep talks in the mirror. Swiatek, who openly discussed the difficulty of playing through PMS last season, dropped another a truth bomb: She just had to go!!! Finally one of this sport’s many mysterious bathroom breaks has been confirmed as legitimate.

Swiatek had a shaky summer by the impossible standards she set this spring, and complained about the Wilson ball used during the American hard court swing, which has a tighter weave to its felt and moves more quickly through the air than she might prefer. Still, she’s headed to the U.S. Open final against Ons Jabeur, the second-best player of the year, bringing an apt conclusion to the 2022 majors. By Defector editorial standards, Swiatek’s season can now be deemed genuinely historic, as it involves a 37-match win streak, a speedy adaptation to hard-court dominance, a French Open title defense, and radical poop transparency.

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