(Reuters) – Iga Swiatek called for an end to online hate and criticism and urged tennis fans to show more empathy after the world number one received angry messages following her 3-6 6-1 6-1 victory over China’s Zheng Qinwen at the Cincinnati Open on Thursday.
Swiatek beat Zheng to set up a quarter-final with Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova but the 22-year-old appeared upset in her press conference after being criticised online for dropping the opening set.
“Today’s match wasn’t perfect. We all saw that. But the amount of hate and criticism me and my team get after losing a set is ridiculous,” Swiatek said. “I want to encourage people to be more thoughtful when they comment on the Internet.
“We all sacrifice a lot. We’re all working really hard to be in that place. We’re always giving 100% of what we can do every day. It’s sad for me to see that people I work with and myself, we’re really judged.”
Swiatek said she experienced similar issues following her loss in the Dubai final shortly after claiming the Doha title.
“I was pretty proud of my results but people really just saw the last match and that I lost in the final and they shouldn’t,” Swiatek said.
“I’m putting a lot of energy for it not to hit too deeply, but I realised that sometimes people – I don’t know if they’re my fans or not but they want me to play better – cause me to waste a lot of energy to ignore them.”
World number five Ons Jabeur said much of the abuse stemmed from people betting on the sport.
“Honestly, you win, you lose, you get hate messages no matter what you do,” Jabeur said. “We need more humanity, more nice people on this earth but I don’t think you can change the mentality of some bettors.
“They have nothing to do in their life and they’re spending money on you and probably, what, they lost a couple of bucks on Iga losing a set.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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