Monday, May 30, 2011

The Sounds of Roland Garros

I’ve enjoyed watching the men’s and women’s matches at the French Open on television these past 8 days, and have been struck by the variety of sounds coming from the players on the courts.  Because of the type of tennis that one must play to be successful on its “terra battuta” surface – longer points that require thoughtful construction vs. the one shot “instant gratification” that’s more common on grass and hardcourts – one tends to hear the players’ efforts more pronounced on clay.

Whether you call it grunting, screaming or desperation squealing, the noises that the players make when serving or hitting their groundstrokes can be quite unique.  It used to be that I only noticed the ladies – Monica Seles and the Williams sisters come to mind – but now it seems that the men are just as likely to put their own vocal imprint on their games as the women.  Years ago, I remember the distinct sound that clay court maestro Gustavo Kuerten used to make while he dominated at the tournament; the Brazilian won 3 titles over 5 years.  Now I can close my eyes and tell you whether it’s Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, or David Ferrer that’s playing.  As usual, Roger Federer is the (silent) exception.

I don’t know what it is, but I’m not as bothered by the men’s exhaling every time they hit the ball as the women’s.  I had to turn down the sound and ultimately stopped watching this year’s Sony Ericsson Final between Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova.  For those that stuck with it, thankfully the match was fairly short.  I should have pressed the mute button to see if the closed captioning writer typed “grunt” and “scream” during the action.

Does it bother you too?

1 comment:

  1. Thankfully Azarenka lost, so we'll be spared a Shazza/Aza semi-final, but we will get Schiavone's "Ah Hee" for at least one more round.