The grunts and shrieks emanating from the tennis courts at Melbourne Park are a perennial topic of discussion at this time of the year.
The Women's Tennis Association is now bowing to pressure from spectators and players, releasing a statement acknowledging that some fans find the noise bothersome.
It says it is exploring how to address the problem by focusing on eradicating excessive grunting from the next generation of players.
Fans are bracing for a shriek-fest this weekend, with the Australian Open women's final featuring two of the game's loudest offenders, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka.
Some of Sharapova's shrieks are said to have reached above 100 decibels, that is louder than a chainsaw and some of her opponents have had enough.
Speaking after her Australian Open quarter-final loss to Azarenka, eighth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska agreed the WTA needed to limit noisy play.
"Of course everybody can make some noise. This is tennis, it's really hard work out there, but I think it's just too loud," Radwanska said.
"I don't think it's very necessary to scream that loud, so if they (WTA) want to do something, why not?
"I don't think this is very nice to watch those kind of players that scream so much all the time. So that's why I think the WTA wants to change something."
Radwanska was reluctant to criticise childhood friend Azarenka but she said Sharapova was simply too loud.
"To be honest, I'm kind of used to it, you know, especially with Vika (Azarenka). We know each other for many years," she said.
"About Maria, I mean, what can I say? For sure that is pretty annoying and it's just too loud."
But Sharapova does not appear prepared to lower the volume.
"No-one important enough has certainly told me to change or do something different," she said.
Azarenka also dismissed controversy, saying she had been loud since she was a child.
"It's the way I am, the way I play, the way I used to play when I was a kid," the Belarusian said.
"And if you want to a little bit more on insight, I think it's the way that made me breathe, made me move. It's part of my movement.
"As a child I was really weak, so I had to give that little extra power there. It kind of stuck with me."
University of Southern Queensland psychology professor Peter Terry says in his view the grunting is gamesmanship that could be labelled cheating.
"From the perspective of the grunter, as it were, they would claim it is a habit they have always been into," he said.
"It is a natural response to the exhalation as they hit the ball hard and that it is not doing anyone any harm, but from the perspective of the person on the other end, they see it differently generally.
"That it is something of a distraction, it also masks the sound of the ball on the racquet and that is important information.
"It is somewhat of an intimidation and it doesn't sit easily within the framework of the rules where you are not allowed to distract your opponent with noise and so at the very least it is a tactic in my view.
"I don't accept that it is a natural consequence of them hitting the ball hard because many players hits the ball hard and don't make any noise."
Rafael Nadal plays a loud game of tennis but does not generate the same level of irritation.
"The men don't shriek the way that Sharapova does for example. The decibels aren't so high," Professor Terry explains.
"I think that it is interesting that the crowd tend not to warm to players who grunt very loudly, certainly not the Australian crowds."Tags: australian-open, tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia First posted January 27, 2012 09:38:37