Former French Open champion Iga Swiatek broke down after her 2-6, 4-6 defeat to Maria Sakkari at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico on Thursday.
A visibly upset Swiatek, making her WTA Finals debut, was allowed to skip the mandatory post-match press conference.
She, however, issued a press statement about the match.
“I was just frustrated and sad that I couldn’t overcome the stress,” the Polish player said.
“I keep forgetting that I still have time to learn how to do because playing in the Finals for me.
“When I forget this is new for me, still it’s okay to lose some matches because of the stress. For me, I feel like it’s a big deal and I’m feeling a little bit ashamed that my level was like that. So I was just feeling pretty sad.”
— wta (@WTA) November 11, 2021
The WTA and all the tennis governing bodies may be taking a more sensitive approach to players facing the press after the Naomi Osaka controversy during the French Open.
Osaka had said before Roland Garros that she would be boycotting the mandatory post-match press conferences.
As she was in violation of the code of conduct, the Grand Slam slapped her with a fine and a threat of default.
Following that, the former World No 1 pulled out of the claycourt major and has helped bring the issue of athletes’ mental health to the forefront.
Both Sakkari and Swiatek have two more matches to go in the round-robin portion of the event.
They will each face the other members of the Chichén Itzá group, Paula Badosa and No.1 seed Aryna Sabalenka.
Sakkari now leads their head-to-head 3-0. They squared off for the first time this season at Roland Garros, where Sakkari upset defending champion Swiatek to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.
The Greek player was gracious in victory and had a few words of encouragement for Swiatek.
“More than anything we’re human,” said Sakkari. “She’s only 20 years old. She’s going to have many more chances than I’ll have in the future because it’s only the beginning for her.”