Iga Swiatek said it was difficult for her to straightforwardly judge if Rafael Nadal made the right or wrong decision in accepting to work with Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, it was announced that 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal was becoming an ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation. Amid securing the rights for the Next Gen ATP Finals through 2027 and being heavily rumored as the next host for the WTA Finals, Saudi Arabia also formed a partnership with one of the greatest and most iconic players in tennis history.
Shortly after the announcement, Nadal started receiving certain criticism as some weren’t happy at all seeing a great champion like the Spaniard getting involved with the Saudis. What is clear is that having Nadal as an ambassador will certainly be of a big help for the Saudi Tennis Federation and their plans to get involved more in tennis.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that this is the case. Well, for sure I feel like it’s not black and white, everything that’s going on, in the sport. It’s hard for me to sum up in one sentence,” Swiatek said when asked about Nadal getting involved with the Saudis.
After making her opening point about Nadal’s decision, Swiatek acknowledged that there have also been rumors about the WTA Finals going to Saudi Arabia.
“For me it’s hard to straightforwardly go one way and say anything. I didn’t even know about Rafa’s decision. Obviously men’s sport is already there in Saudi. I don’t know if it’s a good decision or not. I’m kind of trying not to be too up front. Sorry (smiling),” Swiatek added.
Swiatek on Alexander Zverev facing a trial on allegations of physical abuse
The mother of Zverev’s child, Brenda Patea, accused the 2020 US Open finalist of physically abusing her. In October – two months after Patea made the allegations – a court in Berlin issued a penalty order against Zverev and the German was ordered to pay €450k. However, Zverev strongly denied the allegations and didn’t accept the ruling, instead taking the case to trial.
At the start of this week, it was revealed that Zverev’s trial would start on May 31st. During Tuesday’s press conferences in Melbourne, several ATP players were asked about the Zverev case. However, no one was really interested in speaking about the matter, simply saying they were unaware of the situation.
But WTA world No. 1 Swiatek was willing to address the Zverev situation, stating that it’s “not good” when a player is facing charges but still getting promoted. But also, Swiatek underlined that she is not in the position to judge and that it’s up to the ATP to issue potential punishments or sanctions.
“Well, any answer that I give, I mean, there’s no good answer to that. I think it’s up to ATP what they decide. For sure it’s not good when a player who’s facing charges like that is kind of being promoted,” Swiatek said.
“I don’t know what the result of the investigation or the case is going to be. I’m also not sure what’s the history in terms of the other cases that he had. I don’t know if he won or lost. I guess you have to ask ATP what they want to do with that ’cause I’m not in the right position to judge.”
Swiatek would love Ashleigh Barty to return
To no one’s surprise, Swiatek was asked about Barty in her return to Australia. Swiatek, who will be turning 23 in May, clashed against Barty twice before the former three-time Grand Slam champion retired from pro tennis in 2022 March.
In those two meetings, Swiatek suffered two straight-set defeats as she lost to the Australian in 2021 Madrid and 2022 Adelaide. Reflecting on their meetings, Swiatek admitted it was “annoying” to play and lose to Barty because she knew what the Australian was going to do but still didn’t have any answers for her game.
Two months after winning the 2022 Australian Open and becoming the first Australian woman since 1978 to lift a singles title at Melbourne Park, Barty shockingly announced she was retiring. At the time, Barty was the top-ranked player in the women’s game and was just 25 years old. After Barty retired, Swiatek replaced her at the world No. 1 position.
Since retiring, Barty has gotten married and welcomed her first child. Over the last 22 months, Barty has indicated several times that returning to pro tennis is not an option.
Swiatek, a four-time Grand Slam champion, admits she would love to see Barty back to tennis but also notes that her decision to retire early should be respected.
“I would love to see her back on court. It’s totally her decision. I don’t think we can impact her. Of course, she can impact a lot of people,” Swiatek said.
“She’s a huge inspiration. Obviously in Australia she’s a role model for everybody probably. So, yeah, of course. I mean, I totally get why she stopped. She’s happy now. Let her be happy.”