Monday, October 23, 2006

Article by Todd Spiker about Hingis

Todd Spiker has written an article about Hingis:

2006 Intriguing Answers: A Swiss Miss, a Near-Miss & a Big Hit

As the season winds down, it's time to look at the flip side of January's "Intriguing Questions," so here are some answers gleaned from a nearly complete season of tour action:


The Smiling Assassin has indeed made a very successful comeback. If someone had said in January that Hingis would end the season in the Top 10, reach the YEC, and win a Tier I (plus be RU in another), who wouldn't have been flabbergasted at such success?

==HINGIS IN 2006==

Ten months into the season, though, it's almost commonplace to casually take what Hingis has accomplished in stride. The novelty of her return having worn off, it's now fair to view Hingis in light of what she IS, rather than what she WAS or HOPES TO BE. Her 48-7 record against players ranked outside the Top 10 shows her to still be the steady, heady player who rarely loses to players she shouldn't... but her 4-10 record vs. Top 10ers reveals her to also be very similar to the power deficient player she was when she retreated from the game with her one-time dominance a thing of the past.

Hingis can win a match here and there against a fellow top player, but her game has a hard time standing up to the rigors of stringing together multiple wins against the game's best opponents. It's no surprise that in the one Tier I she won this year, in Rome, she was only required to defeat one Top 10 player (Venus Williams, though hardly the Venus that helped chase Martina from the game four years ago). After reaching the QF at both the Australian and Roland Garros, her later slam results wilted at Wimbledon (3rd Round) and the U.S. (2nd Round, her worst ever) as the long season appeared to finally be taking its toll on her. She won a small event in India in September. But this week, in her first competition in Zurich in six years, she reached the QF, only to fall to, you guessed it, Top 10er Svetlana Kuznetsova.

It's not as if Hingis' stylish and smart game isn't capable of producing great results. Anna Chakvetadze's game, which almost qualifies her to be dubbed "Martina Hingis, version 2.0," helped her knock off three Top 10 players en route to the title in Moscow this month. But the Russian is still only 19 and seemingly in wonder of it all. Maybe it's just that time has naturally eroded a bit of the formerly-haughty on-court nature of the teen Hingis that allowed her to persevere in multiple high-pressure matches in a single event, for with maturity comes the realization that failure is possible... but not fatal.

Hingis' presence on tour is good for everyone, including Martina. While some things might not have changed between Swiss Miss I and Swiss Miss II, one thing HAS... Hingis knows that she wants to be around the sport more than she wants to get away from it. With that realization comes ANOTHER difference... this Martina isn't likely to quit because she isn't #1 anymore.

Hingis is no longer the mighty mite making everything look way too easy. That Martina is exiled to the history books, but THIS ONE is still one of the best, most entertaining players in the world. And that's not so bad, is it?

Hopefully, 2006 was just the beginning of a long Second Act in Hingis' career.


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