The other day, I was sitting in my living room in the UK periodically listening to what sounded like an exasperated woman exhaustingly felling a great oak tree.
Weird, no trees in this part of the city.
I opened the window, looked up and down the street. I’m not imagining it; I can still hear the grunts and squeals. Weird, what could it be?
Then I turned on the TV. Ah, Azarenka’s on court again!
Yes, Victoria Azarenka was busy deafening the Australian public while dealing with Vera Zvonareva at the other end of the court.
In an astonishing matchup which ended with Azarenka winning ten straight games to overturn a one-set deficit and reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time, only one talking point emerged – her vocal “talents.” Her “talents” were in their full glory again Wednesday when she was up a set and 4-0 on No. 1 seed and defending champion Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, only to lose 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.
These shrieks are like nothing heard before. Maria Sharapova merely whispers compared to this Belarusian bullet.
Against Zvonareva, the crowd mocked her, often mimicking her moans and groans between points and the whole scene became farcical as the umpire struggled to hold control over proceedings.
It was more pantomime then professional sport at times.
This isn’t Azarenka’s first brush with a fuming faithful either. The picky Roland Garros crowd once booed her heaving exhales and her mood swings while she has also been mocked at Wimbledon too.
And quite frankly, rightly so! It is well known that some tennis players forcefully shriek in an attempt to put their opponents off and this has to stop.
As was seen against Zvonareva, there is little umpires can do. While they continually ask the audiences to hush their mocking jibes surely their reprimands should be aimed either side of the net?
Had Zvonareva complained it may have been a different matter. Would the umpire then have the authority to tell the opposition to shut the hell up?
In an age where more and more players seem to be employing this tactic, particularly in the women’s game, the authorities have to step in.
At times it’s just laughable, through exasperation and disbelief more than anything, and takes a lot away from what is a highly respectable sport and, on this occasion, what was a terrific match.
If they wish to remain in the higher echelons of the sporting world then governing bodies have to address such niggling issues before they shout their way out of hand.