Tennis

Sharapova backs 'gruntometre'

2012-06-28 17:12
Maria Sharapova (File)
Lodnon - Maria Sharapova has backed to plans to silence tennis grunters even though the world No 1 is one of the worst offenders.

Sharapova is well known for pumping up the volume with shrieks and screams during key points and the Russian raised the decibel levels again at Wimbledon on Thursday as she battled to a 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (3/7), 6-0 second round victory over Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova.

But a growing numbers of players and fans are complaining about grunting from the likes of Sharapova and world No 2 Victoria Azarenka.

Germany's Sabine Lisicki was the latest to join the backlash as she criticised Bojana Jovanovski for drowning out the sound of the ball hitting the racquet during their match at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

Tennis chiefs are finally ready to act, with WTA chairwoman and chief executive Stacey Allaster determined to stamp out the grunting in future generations.

Allaster's organisation and the sport's other governing bodies are developing plans to prevent future players making excessive noise, with one idea to introduce handheld monitors for umpires so they can measure noise levels during matches.

Sharapova agrees officials should be allowed to take action and she said: "I certainly spoke to Stacey about it. We've had numerous conversations.

"It's the first person actually that's sat down with many people and coaches and sports psychologists and analysts and really reviewed what could be done.

"I'm really happy with the system that she put forth. Going to the juniors, going to the academies that are producing the young players, and putting a system in place, I think it's extremely smart."

While Sharapova is happy to see the issue being confronted, she doesn't believe she would be able to tone down her own grunting because it has been ingrained in her for too long.

"Certainly not now, not since I've been doing it since I was four years old," Sharapova said.

"It's definitely tough and impossible to do when you've played this sport for over 20 years."

Sharapova had crushed Anastasia Rodionova in the first round in her first match since winning the French Open earlier this month, but Pironkova made the Russian fight far harder to keep her title bid on course.

The 25-year-old, who won Wimbledon in 2004, had recovered from 5-2 down to take the first set and had just broken to move 3-1 ahead when the tie was suspended due to bad light on Wednesday evening.

Sharapova asked for play to be called off for several minutes before finally getting her wish, but her pleas looked to have backfired when Pironkova hit back to take the second set when play resumed on Thursday.

That provoked an impressive response from Sharapova, who surged through the final set to earn a last 32 clash with Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei as last year's runner-up tries to reach the Wimbledon final for the third time.

"It felt like two matches in a way," Sharapova said. "Yesterday she came out firing and started so well. I really hung on. I was just extremely tough.

"I finally got the momentum but everybody knew at some point we wouldn't finish the match. That was difficult, because I felt I had the advantage.

"Today I started with no motor whatsoever. I was just making errors and I really served sloppy, but in the third I changed it around."

Read more on:    wimbledon  |  maria sharapova  |  tennis
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