Thursday, January 24, 2008

Get out your earplugs: Sharapova vs. Ivanovic

One shrieks, the other squeaks. The Australian Open women's final is guaranteed to be played at a high pitch, and I am not using a metaphor here. Maria Sharapova's shrieks grow louder as a match progresses, and Ivanovic's Australian Open squeaky shoes grate on the nerves--at least if you are a television viewer (or Daniela Hantuchova).

I miss players like Chris Evert, who dominated with shot-making and without noise. The steely look on Evert's face spoke louder than any scream. With today's power play, it is understandable that a number of players are going to grunt, but I still do not understand how screaming (which many commentators insist on calling grunting, for some reason)--a la Sharapova, Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka--came to be part of tennis. During the 2005 Sharapova-Williams Wimbledon semifinal, I had to turn off the sound for a while, so intense was the screaming from both players.

Hantuchova was the first player to complain to the umpire about Ivanovic's squeaky shoes, but her complaint fell on deaf ears. Ivanovic does a lot of footwork while her opponent is serving. There is nothing wrong with that--it is natural--but with those shoes, the result is that there are grating squeaks occurring right around the time of the ball toss. I have never heard Ivanovic's shoes squeak before (which doesn't mean they did not squeak--it just means that I do not recall that they did); it appears she is wearing a different type of shoe, or that her type of shoe has some unfortunate friction on the new Melbourne surface.

At any rate, you have been warned: The women's final is going to be loud, and not in a good way. The screaming cannot possibly be good for the Sharapova vocal cords, but she says it is the natural thing for her to do. I have gotten used to it, but I know I will never get used to the shoe-squeaking--here's hoping Ivanovic goes shoe-shopping some time soon.


Anonymous said...

..."gotten used to it"? Well, I haven't. I know this sounds terrible, and terribly condescending, but I really don't think women's tennis deserves the attention it gets. It's loud, unattractive (read: play + tactics) and they only play three sets at most. They are simply NOT worth the money they earn.

PS: please delete this when you can. My wife has a backhand that makes me bounce of a brick wall...

Johnny Bravo

Anonymous said...

One more thing: I do think Davenport is worth watching, simply because she's a great personality (and plays without her voice). Unfortunately, she doesn't have a twin sister.

Oh, and I noticed I spelled "of[f] a wall" wrong. Sorry.

Johnny Bravissimo

Diane said...

FYI...When the equal pay controversy was going on at Wimbledon, WTA players asked to play 5 sets, and their request was turned down by the All England Club. In other words, we don't think you should get equal prize money, but we won't allow you to do what we believe would earn you equal prize money--it was a case of damned if they do, damned if they don't. Bottom line: The All England Club didn't want to part with the money, regardless of what the WTA did.

They used to play 5 sets, in fact, at what is now the Sony Ericsson Championship (Year-End Championships).

Personally, I'd like to see men always play three sets. It always rains at the majors, and play gets backed up very badly.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I love Sharapova, but prefer to watch in a sportsbar--that way squeaks, squawks, and know-it-all commentators alike all fade into the background...

P.S. What does the equal pay issue have to do with the post? And these women are not out there to play aesthetically pleasing tennis for us. They're there to win.

Diane said...


I wish I had a sports bar around here that would show tennis. That does seem like the ideal setup.

Anonymous said...

Dear Diane,

Didn't know about that 5-set thing. Very interesting! I quite like 5-setters at Roland Garros though. That surface was made for sweating it out until the early evenings (and it rains less there).

Great blog!

Johnny not always Bravo

Diane said...

Thanks, Johnny.

Anonymous said...

I don't normally watch Tennis. I have enjoyed watching several of the Australian Open games, but when Sharapova starts with with that idiot squeal of hers I turn it off. Most irritating. I also think it is cheating and should be made illegal. Grunts from hard effort OK but that idiot noise? No way. I loved seeing her thrashed by Li Nah. I have discussed this with friends who watch regularly, they all hate it. Stand up Tennis Australia and make the game fair for the competitors, let alone the long suffering public.
Ian W