NEW YORK -- It took 39 minutes for Kaja Juvan to get on the board in her third-round match against her good friend and World No.1 Iga Swiatek at the US Open. But when Swiatek's backhand return flew long to end the Slovenian's nine-game drought, Juvan could only laugh.
"She was really killing me at some points," Juvan said after the 6-0, 6-1 loss. "You can either cry or laugh and I went for the laughing part. I thought it was just a nice moment to take it with a little bit of humor and I think the people felt it too."
"Of course it's not how I want it to be, I don't want to be fighting for one game only in a match. But it's the way you can enjoy the big stadiums and enjoy the crowd a little bit."
Swiatek and Juvan go way back. They met in their early teens when they teamed up for doubles on the junior circuit - they won gold at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games - and they have been tight ever since. Earlier in the week they went to dinner together in New York before knowing they would face each other in the draw.
"I think she just has a really good energy," Juvan said. "She doesn't change who she is, at least not considering the situation. I like people who are unique and who are not afraid to be who they are. She has some interesting tastes in music and other things that she doesn't think are weird, and same for me.
"It's nice to find people that you can trust and no matter what happens you stick with them and they stick with you. I think we're pretty loyal to each other. I feel pretty protective of her with everything."
Both players checked their friendship at the door for the match, but Swiatek admitted afterward that she took no pleasure in handing out such a heavy scoreline. The World No.1 likened it to getting a win against a sister.
"But I really just wanted to focus on myself and I think also because I knew that it's going to be a little bit harder for me to focus because she's my best friend, I was actually more focused than usual," Swiatek said. "I'm happy that I could do that and I was fully professional."
Juvan can still take positives from her week in New York. Currently ranked No.145, the Slovenian came through qualifying to make her first third round at a Slam since Wimbledon last year. It was the first time she won five consecutive matches on a hard court.
Having hit a career-high ranking at No.58 last summer, Juvan is making inroads into getting herself back into the main draws at WTA events. If that happens, she'll be able to have more frequent dinners with Swiatek.
"I'm not the kind of person who takes the court stuff to the locker room. For me, you try to win and you do your best. When you're on the court you do your job and when you're off the court, it's normal again. This part, that you can normalize this tour, that you have the chance to hang out with people that you like even if you have to play against them, it's what is special."