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Relaxed Hingis returns to scene of re-emergence

Relaxed Hingis returns to scene of re-emergence

Former world number one Martina Hingis will return to the place where she launched her successful comeback when she opens play today at the Australian Women's Hardcourt tennis championships.
Twelve months ago, the 26-year-old Swiss Miss entered this tournament after a three-year break from the sport with a nominal world ranking of 9,999.
A year on, the five-time Grand Slam winner is firmly ensconced in the top 10 and is the number one seed for the first tournament of the Australian summer.
She is also celebrating her recent engagement to Czech player Radek Stepanek, which she formally announced to the Australian media on Friday.
Hingis, said to be too small to compete with the game's new breed of power hitters when she launched her comeback, proved her doubters wrong in 2006, making up for a lack of power with natural guile and intelligent court craft.
She performed well at all four Grand Slams and won two WTA titles - the Italian Open in May and the Kolkata Open in September.
She opens her campaign today at the Royal Pines Resort with a tricky first round clash against Austrian world number 49 Sybille Bammer.
Should Hingis win her opening match, she would face either Australian Nicole Pratt or former Russian top 10 player Elena Bovina in the second round.
Hingis said she had a completely different attitude heading into the opening tournament of 2007 than she did at the start of 2006.
"I was really nervous starting my first match here (12 months ago)," she said. "This time I don't think I will be as nervous.
"It's a totally different occasion. If someone had told me I'd be back in the top ten or seven in the world I'd take it and sign the contract right away."
Hingis refused to speculate on her chances in the Australian Open.
"That's something I don't want to push too far because there are many other girls out there who are several steps ahead of me," she said.
"I don't think I'm in a position to be saying that I'm going to win a Grand Slam so I won't do that."
Hingis's major challengers here will be Dinara Safina, ranked 11 in the world, and 19-year-old Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, currently ranked 14.
Ivanovic beat Hingis in the final of the Montreal Open in 2006 and is at home in Australian conditions - she has family in Melbourne and is coached by Australian Fed Cup captain David Taylor.
Safina plays fellow Russian Elena Likhovtseva in the opening round while Ivanovic has drawn a qualifier.
The other main contender will be local Samantha Stosur, who has taken her world ranking to number 29 and will have the support of her home crowd in her first round clash against China's Peng Shuai.


Updated : 2021-01-19 14:40 GMT+08:00