Australian Open: Aryna Sabalen

Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka mocked for excessive grunting

Fans and Twitter users slammed Aryna Sabalenka for excessive grunting during her match against Ashleigh Barty of Australia on day two of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park yesterday.

Australian Open: Aryna Sabalen

It looks like Tennis has a new ‘prominent vocalist’ on court. During the Australian Open, Belarusian tennis player, Aryna Sabalenka’s grunting got so grating that the spectators on center court started to imitate and mock the 19-year-old.

On Tuesday, during her match against Ashleigh Barty the chair umpire had to calm the crowd down when they started to mock Sabalenka. In turn the crowd only started to scream louder.

Twitter users and fans took to the internet to comment on her squelching, including former player Todd Woodbridge:

The head of women’s tennis in Australia, Nicole Pratt agreed it (grunting) was a problem, reports Sport24.

Pratt reportedly spoke to local media saying that the player does rely on the sound of the ball coming off the racket. “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.”

In statement to AFP, the women’s governing body, the WTA, disagreed, saying excessive grunting doesn’t seem to be an issue that affects players, but they are aware of how some fans react to it.

“It’s important that we address their concerns. Excessive grunting is being addressed through a commitment to an ongoing educational outreach.”

Grunting has been a long-time issue in tennis. Other players known to grunt includes Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. In the past, Tabloid press even utilized a “gruntometer” during Wimbledon to measure the often ear-splitting shrieks of players.

In the end, Barty did manage to ignore Sabalenka’s shrieks and won the round.

She told reporters that she was warned beforehand and knew what to expect.

“A lot of players grunt. A lot of players don’t grunt,” said Barty. “It’s just the way they are, the way they play. For me, it wasn’t a distraction. It wasn’t anything like that. It was just part and parcel. I knew it was coming.”