herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Azarenka makes her feelings heard

VICTORIA AZARENKA is fed up with the hubbub surrounding her serial grunting but admits the noise from her Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova will carry far and wide.

The 22-year-old Belarusian has reached her first grand slam final on the back of a bruising baseline game coupled with a more mature mental approach that has tamed her combustible temper.

While Azarenka, who would become world number one with a victory tomorrow, has worked hard to block out distractions on court, she knows there is no way of silencing the shrieks of Sharapova.

“Well, I’m not deaf. Of course I hear her,” Azarenka said today. “I’m sure she hears me. And about 15,000 people hear us maybe even further away.”

Azarenka makes no apologies for her grunting, which has been the source of much debate at Melbourne Park. The world number three maintains it is an integral part of her breathing technique and vital to the way she plays the game.

She seems exasperated by the questions and at a loss to explain the sudden outcry against her and fellow grunters.

Machine

“I guess some people are just bored. They created that machine that can measure it. Money well spent, huh?” she said.

“It doesn’t bother me. As I said, I respect every opponent. Whatever they do, they try to do their best job. I think that’s fair enough.”

A Wimbledon semi-finalist last year, Azarenka endured an off-season training regime that pushed her physical limitations and sought to calm the inner demons that had caused her composure to crumble. “I had, how do you call that, ‘meltdowns’,” she conceded.

“For sure, you can see some on YouTube. But I’ve grown as a player and I try to learn from my mistakes.”

Azarenka has met Sharapova six times before, with the wins split at three apiece, with two of the Belarusian’s victories in hardcourt finals.

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