John McEnroe questioned whether Iga Swiatek was a “bit below the belt” in seemingly trying to distract Lauren Davis at the net during their third-round US Open match.
World No. 1 Swiatek came through 6-3 6-4 against Davis to equal her best showing at the tournament.
There was a controversial moment with Davis leading 2-0 in the second set and the score at 30-30 when Swiatek was at the net and appeared to try and put her opponent off by waving her hands in the air.
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Although the move didn’t work as Davis put away the short ball to win the point, Eurosport expert McEnroe said: “I don’t know about that. I don’t think that’s legal…that is a little bit below the belt.
“The last time I saw that was when I was playing in 1986 I believe and [Mansour] Bahrami came in and served, and put his hands wide open and said, ‘Hit me’. And my partner Peter Fleming hit him in the forehead. And I said, ‘He’s a joke, this guy! I don’t understand what he’s doing. This is serious’.
“And Bahrami was like ‘Good shot Peter, good shot!’ He loved it. I don’t think Swiatek has to do that. She’s so good it seems…but she’ll learn. She’s 21.”
Former world No. 7 Barbara Schett added: “It’s a bit edgy isn’t it? I remember Jo-Wilfried Tsonga used to do that but it’s actually a distraction to the opponent.”
French Open champion Swiatek will next face Jule Niemeier in the last 16.
Reflecting on her performance against Davis, Swiatek said: “I could not find my rhythm today.
“She played pretty smart. I’m pretty happy at the end that I could put balls in. I’m just trying to enjoy any match, even when I’m not perfect.”
Swiatek has yet to make it past the fourth round in New York in three previous appearances.
But her bid to win the tournament will be one of the big stories of the second week, especially after Serena Williams’ exit.
Williams was beaten by Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round and is now set to retire from tennis.
Swiatek says she has a great appreciation of the effort it takes to stay at the top for as long as Williams did.
“Being in this situation, I know how tough it is sometimes to find balance and to actually stay focused on the proper things," the Pole commented. "I think she did very well. I have huge appreciation because it’s one of my goals actually to be consistent throughout my whole career, staying top 10 for a long, long time.”
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