Thursday, July 13, 2006

Martina Hingis set to play in India

Hingis 'excited' to play in India

July 13 2006 at 10:57AM

New Delhi - Former world No 1 Martina Hingis will be the star attraction at the $175 000 (about R1,2-million) WTA Sunfeast Open in India in September, organisers said on Thursday.

Hingis, making a comeback on the international circuit after three years in the wilderness due to injury, confirmed her participation in the September 18-24 event in the eastern metropolis of Calcutta.

"I have heard a lot about Indian tradition and the excitement the WTA is creating in the country," Hingis said in a statement released by the organisers.

'Can't wait for September!!' she added in her statement.

"I'm very excited to come and play in front of the passionate tennis fans in Calcutta."

Hingis, who will turn 26 a week after the Calcutta event, is currently ranked 13 on the circuit where she won five Grand Slam titles, including three successive Australian Opens from 1997-1999.

Indian doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, whose sports management company organises the Sunfeast Open, said he was delighted that Hingis had agreed to make her first appearance in India.

"'Winning this year's Australian Open with her was a fantastic experience. She epitomises the perfect modern day tennis player, capable of playing on all surfaces and on all conditions. 'We are extremely delighted to have Martina compete in India," said Bhupathi, with whom Hingis won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open in January.

"The Swiss player has shown admirable resilience in fighting back a career threatening injury and storming into the Top 20 within six months."

Bhupathi, whose company manages Indian teenager Sania Mirza, said the rest of the field would be finalised closer to the tournament.

Asked if Martina would also play the doubles, Bhupathi said, "As of now she is committed to play the singles. Lets see what happens next."

He also confirmed the participation of Sania Mirza and the Oberoi sisters in the tournament.

Asked who is Bhupathi's favourite mixed doubles partner, he said, "It's a very difficult question. The kind of game I play suits all my partners. But I will say Martina is the most impressive of them all."

On whether Anastasia Myskina would come to defend her title, he said, " It's too early to say. The list of the other players and their confirmation will be available only six weeks before the tournament."

Anastasia Myskina of Russia won the 2005 event defeating Karolina Sprem of Croatia in the final.

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