A bagel and a breadstick: two somewhat snarky tennis terms for losing a set 6-0 or 6-1 in reference to the similarities between the baked goods and the numbers 0 and 1. Pretty straightforward and certainly nothing new.
It’s a fate the loser never feels good about and the winner never brags about, but you’ll keep seeing the scores because taking your foot off the gas, even ever so slightly, can trigger a fatal turn of the tide.
In Iga Swiatek’s case, the bakery memes were piping hot in 2022, when she was virtually unbeatable. In 76 matches, she wrapped up 42 sets at 6-0 or 6-1.
On June 4, 2023, the reigning World No. 1 had served up 71 bagels since the start of her career, mostly at the Slams (19) and WTA 1000 events (16).
When Iga dismantled Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-0 last month in Rome, The New York Times’ Christopher Clarey couldn’t resist:
Interestingly, a year earlier, Karolina Pliskova had received the very same treatment, which was made all the more humiliating by the fact that it was in the final.
At Roland-Garros, Iga relapsed with a 52-minute 6-0, 6-0 win over Xinyu Wang of China after which We Are Tennis posted this:
Last November, among the many memes recapping her 2022 season was this carb-lover’s dream:
But beyond the comical comparisons, how does Iga feel about all the gluten-heavy jokes?
Being the good person she is and out of respect for her colleagues, she’d rather not engage in the bake-off banter.
“I don't want to really talk about that—the bakery. I really get why people do that, because it’s fun and tennis is entertainment and everything, but, like, from player’s point of view, I want to be respectful to my opponents,” she said.
“I always try to be careful because you don’t want to get lazy after winning these matches. It’s never easy to win. But on the other hand, sometimes all your head can remember is the score.”
More Meaningful Than a Handshake
On June 4, at the outcome of their round of 16 match at Roland-Garros, Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Daria Kasatkina of Russia didn’t shake hands. Yet their unmistakable mutual respect was far more significant and meaningful than a lot of the empty wishes at the net.
In a tense context, both players demonstrated civility and high regard for each other in their gestures, even at a distance.
In the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, their reactions came as no surprise. Indeed, the Ukrainian players have chosen to systematically ignore their Russian and Belarusian opponents after their matches.
But that day things were different, since Daria Kasatkina has been the most vocal opponent of Russia’s aggressions in Ukraine.
The Russian no.1 also harshly criticized Putin’s anti-2SLGBTQI+ laws. Last July, she came out and revealed her relationship with competitive pair skater Natalia Zabiiako.
In a country where inclusion is an approximate notion at best, it takes tremendous courage to live openly, and denouncing the war shows just how lionhearted Daria Kasatkina truly is, especially when you ponder the possible fates of her loved ones in Russia.
It was a thumbs-up we should all applaud. Loudly.
TWEENER OF THE SEASON?
On a sportier note—because she also happens to be a very talented tennis player— Daria Kasatkina made headlines for what’s almost certainly tennis’ most spectacular and searing tweener of 2023.
It was in round 2 in Paris against Marketa Vondrousova of Czechia.
Before you read on, you have to see it for yourself:
Just to be clear, players hit tweeners all the time because they practice them all the time. With regular drills, everyone at your neighborhood club could hit one, too.
But most tweeners are defensive shots. When luck is involved, they can turn into winning lobs, but they’re generally only meant to keep the ball in play.
But Daria’s tweener? As lethal as a laser-guided weapon.
It’s not unlike the tweener Federer hit in the semis of the 2019 US Open, bewildering Novak Djokovic in the second-last point before breaking him at love.
The WTA's best return to Montreal this summer for the National Bank Open August 4 to 13 at IGA Stadium. Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!