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Beyond the Baseline

Novak Djokovic 'fine' with grunting

Novak Djokovic doesn't have a problem with grunting in the women's game.

"Everybody has a different way of expressing themselves on the court," Djokovic told reporters in China when asked about WTA grunting, for which Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, among others, have received criticism. "And if that's been a part of Azarenka's and Sharapova's game throughout all their life, that's the way it is."

It's not too surprising that Djokovic would downplay the issue. He's not exactly the quiet type when he plays, either, and Sharapova is his good friend and Head sponsor-buddy.

"There is no rule that forbids them to grunt," Djokovic said. "Monica Seles did, and she had no problems even though it can be annoying to opponents. But still, they're not doing that to provoke their opponents or do something in order to win that match. It's just a part of their game, part of them. I guess it's on the other people to decide what they want to do with that. In my eyes, it's fine."

This week, Sharapova reiterated her support for the WTA's plan to curb grunting -- a plan, of course, that doesn't affect current players, so the French Open champion's vocal cords are in the clear -- and a reporter's follow-up questioning in Beijing led to this amusing exchange:

Q.  Recently you came out against grunting.  That's a pretty big part of your game.  How would you make...

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  What have I done?

Q.  You recently came out against grunting.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh.  I thought you said I did karate.  (Laughter.)

Q.Well, do you do karate?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No, that's why I was really surprised.

Yeah, leave the karate to JJ, Maria.

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