For Karolina Pliskova, silence is golden.
In the modern game of tennis, shrieking, squawking, grunting and groaning is the norm, especially in the women’s game.
When Pliskova makes contact with a tennis ball, all you hear is the smack. She is the anti-Sharapova. Before she was banned from tennis for two years for a doping violation, Sharapova also was known as Shriekapova for her ear-splitting shrieks when she made contact with a ball. A London newspaper once used a sound measure device at Wimbledon to calculate that Sharapova could shriek at more than 100 decibels.
The Williams sisters let out discernible groans and squawks, and most women’s players are identifiable for the squeals they make. The medical term for it is valsalva, and a player valsalvering is expelling air rapidly at the apex of physical effort.
Venus Williams was typically crying out during her match with Pliskova on Sunday. On the other side of the net, Pliskova played in silence as she earned a three-set win and a quarterfinal spot against Ana Konjuh on Wednesday.
“I’m not screaming, no,” Pliskova said. “I breath into the shot, but I’ve never screamed.”
Fan takes on her idol
When Simona Halep takes on Serena Williams Wednesday night in the quarterfinals, she will again face the player who has been an inspiration and teacher. The pair has met eight times with Williams holding a 7-1 advantage, her sole loss coming at the WTA finals in 2014.
The 24-year-old Halep grew up in Romania wanting to emulate Williams, who was already a Grand Slam champion by the time Halep was old enough to know that she wanted a career in tennis.
“I was a kid. At that moment maybe I was dreaming to play against her once, because I was a kid and I didn’t know that I would be so in the top,” Halep said. “Like I said many times, I have learned from her many times. I admired her a lot, so it’s always good to play against her and it’s always good to watch what the best players are doing.”
And what has she learned from Williams?
“Oh, she’s ambitious. She gives everything to win all the matches,” Halep said. “Her focus. She is focused and she doesn’t give up. Three things. And I’m not telling anymore.”