WITH barely a whisper of the forbidden term ”grunt-o-meter”, plans have been approved to equip umpires with a hand-held sound-measurement device to help reduce excessive player noise.
To the aural relief of many, the Women’s Tennis Association will also use rule changes and education to deal with one of the more irritating issues in the sport.
But until then, the existing arrangements apply, and as an interesting subplot to the pesky matter of noise pollution, German Sabine Lisicki today enters her round-of-16 Wimbledon match against infamous shrieker Maria Sharapova having taken the unusual step of complaining about the emissions from her opponent Bojana Jovanovski in round two.
”It was distracting. You usually hear the sound of the ball, but I couldn’t really hear it because of her grunting,” said 15th-seeded Lisicki, who approached chair umpire Mariana Alves during the match. ”But that’s why we have the rules, the hindrance rule. So that’s what I talked about to the judge. Grunting is part of the game, but it shouldn’t be off-putting and be an advantage for the opponent, the one who is doing it.”
The women’s tour’s hindrance rule allows the umpire to take action, at their discretion, if ”a player hinders her opponent”.
There was no punishment this time, and nor did the all-screeching Australian Open women’s final between Sharapova and another serial offender, world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, attract any sanctions.
Lisicki said she would enter tomorrow’s 2011 semi-final rematch worrying only about herself. ”We’ll see what happens out there. It’s another challenge. I love playing those big matches, so I’m just looking forward to it, really.”
And the noise? Will it distract her?
”It did the last match. That’s why I complained. It was better afterwards. It was fine.”
Sharapova, one would think, is unlikely to be so accommodating.
Always generous, though, is Kim Clijsters, who has carried abdominal issues into her Wimbledon farewell, but benefited from the third-round illness retirement of old rival and 12th seed, Vera Zvonareva, when the Russian trailed 6-3, 4-3. Clijsters, like the top half of both draws, has the weekend off, and is using it to rest and continue her treatment. The Belgian’s next opponent is eighth seed Angelique Kerber.
World No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska is the top-ranked player in the second quarter, and scheduled to meet young Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi – who added the scalp of Nadia Petrova to a list that started this week with Flavia Pennetta – in the fourth round.
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