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Gauff on Iga Knockdown: It's Part of the Game

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The body blow Coco Gauff inflicted on Iga Swiatek wasn't a malicious strike, the sixth seed said afterward.

Blistering a backhand drive into the body, Gauff tattooed the two-time Roland Garros champion knocking her to the dirt in the third game of the second set. Gauff raised her hand and immediately apologized for the strike.

More: Swiatek KOs Gauff

Swiatek shook off the shot, rose from the red clay with a swath of crushed red brick streaked across her shoulder and dusted Gauff 6-4, 6-2, scoring her 12th straight Roland Garros win to reach the semifinals for the third year.

Asked about the exchange afterward, Gauff said "I didn't try to hit her."

Pointing out she missed a similar backhand a few points earlier, Gauff said she was trying to hit hard through the middle of the court and caught Swiatek in the process.

"The last point I lost because I was avoiding the -- I kind of shanked the backhand. Then the next one I said if I get it again, I'm not going to hit my target," Gauff said. "It wasn't her. I didn't try to hit her.

"I was just trying to hit the ball hard in the middle of the court."

Tennis Express

Prevailing in a rematch of the 2022 final, Swiatek swept Gauff for the seventh time in as many meetings. The world No. 1 said she doesn't believe Gauff tried to hit her.

"I don't really know if that was her only option or not, but I know Coco is a nice person, and she wouldn't mean it," Swiatek said. "Nothing personal. It happens."

Tennis is a territorial sport and Gauff said when you drift close to net in the pro game, you run the risk of getting nailed.

"I apologized after, but I think she knows that's part of the game," Gauff said. "If you hit a bad ball and you decide to run to the net, there's always a risk that you get hit, and there's always the risk that the person might miss trying to avoid you. It worked the first time. The second time it didn't work.

"But if I was in her position, I wouldn't be mad at me either because she ran forward. I think when I said sorry, she shook her head, and we had a mutual understanding that that was the only shot I really had."

Photo credit: Aurelien Meunier/Getty