Hingis puts on brave face over early defeat in Sydney
By Julian Linden
SYDNEY, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Martina Hingis was putting on a brave face on Monday after her Australian Open preparations were cut short when she was bundled out of the opening round of the Sydney International.
The former world number one crashed to her second defeat in three days when she lost 6-4 4-6 6-3 to in-form Serbian Jelena Jankovic.
Hingis's first-round exit came just two days after she was beaten by Dinara Safina in the final of the Australian women's hardcourt championship on the Gold Coast and left her without another competitive match before the first grand slam of the year.
The 26-year-old Swiss said, however, that the loss might prove a blessing in disguise as it would allow her to feel fresh when the Australian Open starts in Melbourne next week.
"I always take positive out of a loss," Hingis told reporters.
"Endurance-wise, it definitely was good playing three sets going into Melbourne. I have a few days off now so I should be fresh when I get there."
Hingis won the Australian Open three years running from 1997 to 1999 when she was in her prime but lost the next three finals.
Her last appearance, in the 2002 final, was especially agonising. On a scorching hot day that sapped her strength, Hingis blew four match points and a 4-0 lead in the second set to hand the title to Jennifer Capriati in one of the greatest turnarounds in grand slam history.
Hingis, who announced earlier this month that she is to marry Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek, retired later that year because of a combination of foot, heel and ankle injuries but made a comeback in 2006.
She made a stunning return to the grand slams by reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian and French Opens then the third round at Wimbledon and second round of the U.S. Open.
Hingis added to her list of tournament titles by winning in Rome and Kolkata to finish the year ranked seven in the world but her goal of adding to her grand slam collection continues to elude her.