Sunday 26 March 2017

Tennis: Maria loud and clear

No wonder the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) appears to have little inclination to crack down on its most famous grunters. Twenty-four hours after Victoria Azarenka said it would be "kind of silly" for the tour to take action against the game's wailers and shriekers, Maria Sharapova was magnificently dismissive when asked for her opinion on the subject.

"I've been the same over the course of my career," the 24-year-old Russian said after her 6-2 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova in the quarter-finals. "No one important enough has told me to change or do something different."

If that was enough to send shivers down the spine of any WTA official contemplating such a conversation with the world No 4, Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska might feel much the same if she learns of Sharapova's reaction to her comments the previous day.

Radwanska said after her defeat by Azarenka that Sharapova's on-court shrieking was "pretty annoying." When told what Radwanska had said, Sharapova replied bluntly: "Isn't she back in Poland already?"

The WTA says it's "exploring how to reduce excessive grunting, especially for younger players just starting out, without adversely affecting players who have developed their game under the current training, rules and procedures."

Asked how any rule change might affect her, Sharapova said: "Right now there is no rule change. I don't hear that there will be one, so it doesn't matter what my answer would be."

In today's semi-finals Sharapova is due to meet Petra Kvitova, while Azarenka takes on Kim Clijsters.

Irish Independent

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