After that first set, which Mono won 6-3, it looked like she was going to run away with it. She was painting lines, hitting hard and flat, and building a 3-0 lead in the second set. But Vika picked up her game, started returning better, and was able to carry that form through to take the match.
But the real story was in their pressers, which I missed because, as Matt Cronin pointed out, I was hell bent on not missing a point of Sam's match. Thankfully I got the audio from the WTA.
It basically involved the issue of grunting, obviously spurred on by Vika's incessant thing she does. Seriously, you can hear her from across the grounds, even during practice:
"Yeah of course it's difficult to play against those kind of players. I think it's fine to grunt sometimes when you make an effort but sometimes it's just so loud, you know, it's hard to focus on your side of the net.
For sure, if you have a Azarenka/Sharapova match you better come with some earplugs. I try not to be that annoying but I played her before in Eastbourne in this year and in the first game of the match everyone was laughing about it so it was quite disturbing as well. But I think she's done that since childhood and it's just something that every time she plays tennis she's doing it even on practice. So it's not something we can change, I guess, about her.
Larcher de Brito when she was playing was is even louder than her. That was really disturbing because her grunting would continue even when the ball was coming on your side....I don't think Victoria is not that bothering.
You kind of get used it, honestly. It's kind of disturbing for the first 10 or 15 minutes but after you get used to it."
Of course, Vika would get asked about it too:
"Yeah, well, a lot of things can distract people, like doing this [imitates Bartoli's wrist waggle] when you serve can also be distracting. But I don't pay attention. But that's the way I play.... With me, the grunt is always there - in practice and in play. Ever since I was a kid, I was pretty weak and I needed that extra power.
There are some players that like to fake injuries and think they're dying out there but then the point starts they are running for every ball. But it's part of the game. You try to win however you can."
And in a moment of levity, Vika ranks her grunting:
"I don't know. I think I'm top 10? [laughter]"
Even Sam, somehow, got pulled into this:
To be honest during matches I don't notice it too much against opponents. I've played her in the past, and some of the other...known...grunters. [laughter] When I'm playing against them I don't notice it. But when I watching TV or on the sidelines, of course I notice it.
Hopefully it'll be the same tomorrow [laughter]. I mean, I'm not stupid. I know who's loud and who's not, but it doesn't really bother me.
There are little mannerisms that certain players have that annoy you more than others. But that's part of the game. I'm sure that most of the time they're not doing it to try to put the other player off. It's just part of their routine or whatever they do. Maybe some days you're looking for outside things to annoy you as well. Maybe you're not playing well that day so it's annoying you that day more than others.
It's all much ado about nothing. And again, the comments are going to rile up different fan bases. But just remember that these comments were in response to questions. They weren't brought up sua sponte from the players, who, to their credit, all answered pretty honestly here. It shouldn't be held against them.
I'll say what I've always said: If you seriously think you lost a match or your opponent had an edge because you got annoyed about a grunt (and I exclude Burrito in this because I do think her prolonged grunt is a problem from a technical standpoint) then, well, yeah, you should have lost. You can't use it as an excuse.
Incidentally, Mono picks a Stosur/Sharapova final. And Vika doesn't drink beer.