'She increases her scream volume the more she loses!': Sharapova irritates fans in Aus Open loss

'She increases her scream volume the more she loses!': Sharapova irritates fans in Aus Open loss
Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been branded a “cheat” by fans after apparent unsportsmanlike behaviour in her Australian Open loss to home favorite Ashleigh Barty, including 'screaming' and taking 7 minutes for a bathroom break.

Sharapova crashed out in the tournament's round of 16 on Sunday to world number 15 Barty, who recorded an incredible 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 comeback victory in Melbourne, but it was the Russian who stole the headlines with her perceived pettiness on court, being admonished by observers, some labelling her “not likable”.

The world number 30, an Australian Open winner in 2008, was booed by the crowd Down Under for drawing out a toilet trip for seven minutes after her opponent had sewn up the second set and leveled the match at 1-1. 

Although technically within the rules, fans saw through the move as a ploy to halt Barty's momentum in the match. The fans in attendance in Melbourne also made their feelings known and scorned the 5-time Grand Slam winner. 

Then, in something of a throwback twist, fans also took issue with the sheer volume of Sharapova's screams - the 31-year-old's characteristic to grunt loudly while playing a shot has been much parodied in the media - and the long time taken between serves. 

None of Sharapova's apparent underhand tactics did anything to knock Barty from her stride, as the Queensland native, 22, raced to a 4-0 lead in the third and final set.

Although Sharapova managed to pull it back to 4-3, the local player would not be denied and took the decider 6-4 to set up a quarter-final against No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, the first time in 10 years an Australian women’s player has reached the final eight.

After the match, Sharapova was curt with reporters when asked whether the crowd's heckling affected her performance, calling such questions “silly”.

“What do you want me to say to that question...I think that’s a silly question to ask,” she said. 

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