x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Azarenka warms up for Dubai Tennis Open and silences critics of grunting

The world No 1 insists her noise levels are as natural as snoring, claiming that she has never been approached by other players to tone it down.

Victoria Azarenka had an ankle injury scare but came up on the winning side.
Victoria Azarenka had an ankle injury scare but came up on the winning side.

DOHA // World No 1 Victoria Azarenka hit back at more criticism of her on-court grunting on Sunday, claiming it was as natural and uncontrollable as snoring.

The Belarusian turned her fire on a reporter after she had defeated Samantha Stosur 6-1, 6-2 in the Qatar Open final which gave her a 17th successive victory in 2012.

But the Australian Open champion found herself once again under the spotlight for her trademark grunting.

"Do you snore?," she hit back at a journalist. When he replied 'yes', Azarenka asked whether or not he could control it.

"No, I guess it's natural," said the reporter.

"So it's natural to you, right? So that's natural to me, too, the way I play tennis. That's it.

"It (the snoring) probably distracts your wife, if you have a wife, I don't know, right? There you go."

Azarenka insisted she has no time for critics of her noise levels, claiming that she has never been approached by other players to tone it down.

"Not one player has ever come up to me and said, 'Hey, stop doing that'. I think there are other ways that people maybe distract me too. But I just don't say it out loud. I just deal with it," she said.

"If somebody wants to say 'I lost this match because she's grunting', it's up to them. I think they're just weak people."

Azarenka had twisted her right ankle during her semi-final game against Agnieszka Radwanska but showed no signs of discomfort yesterday night, striking an ominous signs for her rivals as leads a stellar field in Dubai this week.

"It's amazing. I can't believe I could play that kind of tennis today," Azarenka said. "I knew I wouldn't be 100 per cent, so I had to change and adjust."

Six of the world's top seven women's players will play in the WTA Tour of the Dubai Tennis Championships which will be followed by the men's tennis module where eight of the top 10 players will be on court.