Friday 24 June 2011

Wimblemund 2011, day 5

Today, a plucky Brit overwhelmed by grunting special.

Shuai Peng bt. Elena Baltacha 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
The British number 1 succumbed in three sets to the world number 20 on Court 18. That's the numerical breakdown of events. The standout thing for me, though, was Peng's astonishing grunting. Unlike so many of her fellows, my issue here is not one of volume. Peng's grunt is actually fairly restrained and demure. But the sound of it and the sustain is something quite apart. It may be the only doppler effect grunt in women's tennis. The overall effect is that of a Kookaburra pleasuring itself sat by the door of a departing Routemaster bus.

I've long held the belief that grunting, particularly loud grunting, could and perhaps should be looked upon as a form of gamesmanship. I will now add 'completely preposterous grunting' to that list.

Maria Sharapova bt. Laura Robson 7-6(4), 6-3
Meanwhile on Court 1, Queen Grunt was in action. Sharapova has always sounded like a fire in a barnyard, particularly when she's under the cosh. So it is very much to young Laura Robson's credit that, towards the end of the first set particularly, Maria was making noises like a backfiring yak. Robson's performance was excellent today, and not just in the plucky pluckins sense. She raced into a 4-1 lead, then as soon as Sharapova had pegged her back equal, Robson managed to break the Russian's service again. Eventually, Sharapova's quality and experience told, but I think most people will have seen enough of Laura Robson today to believe that she could well have the game to transfer her dominant form at junior level into a substantial professional career.

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