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Beyond the Baseline

Azarenka can't -- and won't -- stop grunting

Victoria Azarenka said she's been grunting for years and has no plans to change now. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

ISTANBUL -- Victoria Azarenka, one of the loudest grunters in the game, said she can't stop shrieking and advised those concerned about the issue to "mind your business."

Azarenka addressed the topic on Wednesday, one day after world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was quoted as saying that some players grunt on purpose and use it to gain a tactical advantage. The 22-year-old Azarenka said she has no intention of changing something that she's been doing for almost 15 years.

"I'm the way I play since I was actually 8 years old, and it's become a part of my movement, part of my game," Azarenka said after defeating Samantha Stosur in her first match at the WTA Championships. "So I cannot change it and I'm not going to."

Azarenka indicated that a rule change to curb grunting wouldn't affect her approach.

"It's not about the rule," she said. "You cannot stop people from doing what they do on the court. I mean, it's not -- you're not trying to distract anybody. It's just normal. For me, I do it during the practice, during the matches. If some people do it only during the matches to distract, maybe it's bothering. But I do it all the time. It's just a part of me, a part of who I am."

Asked what her attitude would be if an opponent made a formal complaint to an umpire or official, Azarenka said: "I would just say, Mind your own business, I guess. I hope you can beat me. That's it."

Could she stop grunting if she had to?

"No. Really. That's what I have been trying to tell you, but you keep asking me the same question, just trying to turn it around. And you're not going to get another answer."

Stosur said she doesn't notice the noise when she's playing -- "When you hear it every single time, you become unaware of it almost" -- but acknowledged that Azarenka's grunting sounds "horrible" when the Aussie watches her on television.

"It's not really something I feel strongly about," Stosur said. "I don't really think about it other than when I get asked about it in situations like this. If someone wants to make a rule about it that you can't do it, fine; if they don't, then that's fine as well.

"I make noise when I hit the ball as well.  It's just not so screechy.  So nobody really says anything about it."

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