Iga Świątek begs French Open fans not to shout during points after thrilling victory against Naomi Osaka

Iga Świątek criticised the French Open crowd for shouting during points following her tense second-round victory against Naomi Osaka on Wednesday.

Świątek, the defending champion at Roland Garros, trailed by a break in the deciding set and had to save a match point in an enthralling contest with Osaka.

She eventually prevailed 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 7-5 on Court Philippe Chatrier, and then – unusually for a player known for her calm and reserved demeanor on the court – rebuked the crowd for distracting her during big points.

“I have huge respect for you guys and I know that we are playing basically for you because this is entertainment and we are also earning money because of you,” Świątek said in her on-court interview.

“But sometimes [we’re] under a lot of pressure. When you scream something during the rally or right before the return, it’s really, really hard to be focused … This is serious for us, we’re fighting our whole lives to be better and better and sometimes it’s just hard to accept that.

“The stakes are big and there’s lot of money here to win. Losing a few points may change a lot. Please, guys, if you can support us between the rallies but not during, that would be really, really amazing.”

Świątek, aiming to win a fifth grand slam title and fourth at the French Open, was cheered by the crowd as she delivered the message.

It was also surprising to see so many empty seats for a high-quality encounter between a current and former world No. 1 who each have four grand slam titles.

“Osaka vs Swiatek is a brilliant watch,” Andy Murray posted on X, adding that the sport should be doing more to promote the match.

It’s not the first time that the French Open crowd has come under the spotlight this week. Belgian player David Goffin said that one spectator spat chewing gum at him during his five-set victory against Frenchman Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard.

“Soon, there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and fights in the stands,” Goffin told Belgian media, per Reuters. “It’s starting to become ridiculous. Some people are there more to cause trouble than to create an atmosphere.”

In a statement to CNN regarding the incident, a spokesperson for the French Open said: “The public are incredibly enthusiastic, particularly on the outside courts. However, they must of course show full respect to all players while doing so.

“Oversight bodies are in place to make sure rules are followed. Although it is only natural that fans share their excitement and cheer on their favourites, this may not in any case go against the values of tennis or consideration for the players.”

For her part, Osaka said that the atmosphere was “really incredible” for her match against Swiatek, adding that she noticed “how much fun everyone in the crowd was having.”

Osaka plays a forehand against Świątek. - Jean-Francois Badias/AP
Osaka plays a forehand against Świątek. - Jean-Francois Badias/AP

The Japanese star has returned to tennis this year after the birth of her daughter, and her time away from the sport has seen her drop outside the top 100 in the world rankings.

Many expected Świątek, playing on her favored surface of clay and coming off back-to-back titles in Madrid and Rome, to win comfortably against Osaka, but that was far from the truth.

The Polish 22-year-old, who turns 23 on Friday, gained the upper hand in the opening set as she won 12 points in a row for a 3-1 lead before Osaka responded strongly, breaking Świątek at 4-3 having trailed 40-0 earlier in the game.

Świątek had to save a set point at 5-4, then managed to take a commanding lead in the tie break and wrap up the first set in an hour and nine minutes.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Osaka, now hitting with aggression and accuracy, broke Swiatek three times in the second set to level the match.

Another break at the start of the final set put her on course for an upset victory against a player so dominant on clay, but a couple of costly misses at 5-3 – including a netted backhand on match point – saw Świątek survive.

The defending champion rallied from there, securing two breaks of serve and a thrilling victory in three hours and 13 minutes – despite Osaka’s impressive performance featuring eight aces and 54 winners.

“It’s hard to have any logical thoughts because it was really intense and on a really high level,” Świątek told reporters. “I was in huge trouble in the third set but I managed somehow to win this match.”

Bidding to becoming the first woman to win three consecutive French Open titles since Justine Henin in 2007, Świątek will face either Croatia’s Jana Fett or Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzková in the third round.

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