TENNIS: Grunter Sabalenka feels the wrath of Aussie fans

TENNIS: Grunter Sabalenka feels the wrath of Aussie fans
Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka reacts during their women's singles first round match against Australia's Ashleigh Barty.

Melbourne - Rising Belarusian follows in footsteps of Sharapova and Azarenka


Published: Wed 17 Jan 2018, 7:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 Jan 2018, 9:49 PM

Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are well known for it and now tennis has a new shrieker and grunter, who was so loud at the Australian Open the crowd started imitating her.

Rising Belarusian star Aryna Sabalenka's screeching got so grating in her Australian Open clash with local hope Ashleigh Barty late on Tuesday that the irritated centre court crowd began mocking the 19-year-old.

It prompted the chair umpire to admonish them, with the irony not lost on spectators, who jeered louder in response.

Twitter also lit up in response with former player Todd Woodbridge joining the critics.

"Nice player #Sabalenka but something needs to b done about her noise and grunting on court!!!!," he said.

The head of women's tennis in Australia Nicole Pratt agreed it was a problem.

"The player does rely on the sound of the ball coming off the racket," she told local media.

"And probably more the issue is when players grunt or scream for an extended period of time because then that is impeding on your hitting time and hitting space. There is a bit of an issue when it does get extended."

Grunting has long been a divisive issue in tennis, with Sharapova routinely derided for it.

Britain's famously inventive tabloid press have even utilised a "gruntometer" during Wimbledon to measure the often ear-splitting shrieks of the top players.

It is not just women who can get loud. The likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal can also be prominent vocalists on court.

Despite the distraction, Barty managed to shut out the noise. She said she knew what to expect, having been warned by her coach. "He was aware it was coming. A lot of players grunt. A lot of players don't grunt," she said. "It's just the way they are, the way they play. For me, it wasn't a distraction." - AFP

It wasn't anything like that. It was just part and parcel. I knew it was coming."

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