"I'm human, I need to breathe" - Iga Swiatek clarifies chair umpire argument at Cincinnati Open, admits to purposefully delaying Marketa Vondrousova

Iga Swiatek clarifies chair umpire argument at Cincinnati Open, admits to purposefully delaying Marketa Vondrousova
Iga Swiatek clarifies chair umpire argument at Cincinnati Open, admits to purposefully delaying Marketa Vondrousova

Iga Swiatek booked her spot in the semifinals of the 2023 Cincinnati Open on Friday, downing reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets. During the 7-6(3), 6-1 win, though, it was not all smooth sailing for the World No. 1.

At one point, Swiatek was handed a warning by chair umpire Marija Cicak for taking too long to get ready on her opponent's serve. After the match, the 22-year-old was engaged in a long conversation with Cicak, which she later clarified in her post-match press conference.

Swiatek made it clear that there was no tension between her and the chair umpire, only that Cicak was very strick with the rules and applying them to the letter. As for why she slowed down proceedings, the four-time Grand Slam champion said that she needed time to catch her breath after several long rallies - something Vondrousova was not allowing her.

"I wouldn't say 'tension'. I respect Marija Cicak, she's a great umpire. But overall she's really strict with the rules, and she's applying them always, looking at even like one second and everything," Iga Swiatek said.
"Yeah, last two games, we played some longer rallies, so I felt like I need time to just catch my breath, but Marketa didn't really let me do that. We have, what, 23 or 25 seconds?" she added.

Swiatek further highlighted that Vondrousova was always ready to serve after just five of the allotted 25 seconds on the serve clock had elapsed, which she was not comfortable with.

The World No. 1 admitted that she wanted to "steal a few seconds" for herself, making sure that 10-12 more seconds had gone by before getting ready to receive the Czech's serve while still leaving her enough time to get through.

While Swiatek acknowledged that the rule is to play at the pace of the server, she thinks there was an exception in her case, as Vondrousova was playing too fast. That was what she wanted to explain to chair umpire Cicak at the end of the match -- that she was also human and "needed to breathe."

"She was always ready when there was still 20 seconds. I'm using that break to get ready for the next point. Here I didn't really have time, so I wanted to kind of steal a few seconds for myself. I'll be honest with you. I was always ready when it was like 16 or 15 seconds, so I thought it's plenty enough time for Marketa," Iga Swiatek said.
"The rule is actually that the time is for her. When she's ready, I have to be ready. Like, she was ready really fast, you know? I mean, I just told Marija Cicak that I'm human, I need to breathe, you know," she added.

"I totally get the rule, and I'm not going to push" - Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek, Poland Tennis
Iga Swiatek, Poland Tennis

At the same time, Iga Swiatek maintained that she understands why the rules suggest playing at the pace of the server and does not want to push it any more than necessary.

"I'm okay. I mean, I can still play well. Physically I'm ready. It's just there's the point that we have 20 seconds. I totally get the rule, and I'm not going to, like, push because that's the rule, and we have to adjust to it," Swiatek said.

Up next, Iga Swiatek will take on Coco Gauff in the Cincinnati semifinals, against whom she has a 7-0 lead in their head-to-head. The World No. 1 appeared confident about dealing with any new weapons Gauff might unleash on Saturday, saying:

"Coco, obviously we played plenty of times. I kind of know her game. But you never know what she's going to come up with.
"I'll be ready and kind of focus on myself. I think after these couple of matches, I already know how to play in these conditions, so I'll just use that experience and go for it."

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