Friday, January 19, 2007

Interesting article about Hingis

Martina Hingis serves during her 6-2, 6-2 victory over Russian Alla Kudryavtseva in the Australian Open's second round yesterday.
Photo: Eddie Jim

Martina the elder still holds court
Peter Hanlon
January 19, 2007

MARTINA Hingis is avoiding the questions. No matter how they are phrased — Are you a better player than this time last year? Have your goals changed now that your comeback has been deemed a success? Can you win another slam? — she returns with a blocked racquet straight back to the server.

Occasionally, she gives a little ground, although only to place a landing bag should she take an unexpected tumble. The early points in every match are critical — "as they usually are in today's women's tennis". The early matches are tougher — "before, it was probably quarter-finals (where the real testing began), now it's first round already".

Hingis was reminded soon after her first-round win over Nathalie Dechy how swiftly modern tennis moves, finding her name alongside Alla Kudryavtseva, of whom she knew nothing. The Russian qualifier had the heavier groundstrokes and made the bigger winners early in yesterday's clash, but soon discovered what so many have before her — it takes more than a big stick to beat Hingis.

Kudryavtseva lost 6-2, 6-2, meaning the soon-to-be Swiss Missus (Hingis is engaged to world No. 19 Radek Stepanek) has dropped just six games en route to the third round. She has won five major titles — three of them here — but has dipped under the radar as far as adding another goes.

She played under the roof again yesterday, morning rain forcing a repeat of the sterile conditions of her first match, and multiple outings en route to a quarter-final here last year. She is 26 now, relatively a grand old dame of the circuit, and is clearly becoming an indoorsy type in her dotage.

Hingis was happy enough with her work, but berated herself for going missing at 4-0 in the second set. There are times when the brain just has to relax, she began to explain, then the hard taskmaster interjected. "It did, but it shouldn't."

She won career singles titles 41 and 42 last year, and remembers her return after a three-year lay-off with fondness. She finished 2006 in the top 10, having sailed past so many of the fresh young things who moved in during her absence, and passed a few old friends — the Williams sisters, Capriati, Davenport — as they headed in the opposite direction.

There is a little of the Luddite-versus-the-PlayStation-generation in her speech. "The young girls, they just really attack …" She acknowledges the difference between those at the top and those pushing, but every match gives her confidence that she belongs at the pointy end.

Also pushing after years in mid-rankings limbo is Daniela Hantuchova, who rose to world No. 5 after a quarter-final here four years ago, but has since remained a good arm's length away from the elite.

Yesterday, she fell behind to the veteran Frenchwoman Emilie Loit, but persisted to emerge with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win and a date with American Ashley Harkleroad, who swept past the 17th-seeded German Anna-Lena Groeneveld 6-2, 6-2.

After feeling delusional from the heat in her first-round win, Maria Sharapova felt her usual dominating self in her 6-0, 6-3 victory over Anastasia Rodionova.

While admitting to being far from her top, despite the emphatic score, Sharapova was pleased to have suffered no ill effects from the scorching temperatures of Tuesday.

"I still think that I can play a lot better," she said. "I think I can get better as I play more matches."

From her perch as elder stateswoman and modern-day sage, Hingis had noted that, now more than ever, anyone on the tour could take anyone else on their day. Confirmation was not long coming.

Having spent a few moments giving the fourth estate her thoughts on the game of rising Indian Sania Mirza, her prospective third-round opponent — "huge forehand, improved backhand, you've got to get her sooner than she gets you" — she emerged to find Aiko Nakamura had got Mirza already.

Beyond the unheralded Japanese, the ninth seed Dinara Safina, another comfortable winner yesterday, should be waiting. Then another quarter-final, and the meeting of expectation for Hingis. Or is it?

with Michael Gleeson


my own comments:

oh so what has changes, hingis always avoids the tough questions, its a good thing though from her career part-1 where she shot from the lip first before asking any questions.

ohh its her mental frmae of mind that has always troubled her since the 99 RG meltdown. A lilttle bit of not being able to concentrate and "finish" it off has been her problem for too long. if taken to 3 sets, Hingis seems to loose steam much too often. her part 2 act will suceed only if she can get a grip on her mental floating!

not that her "necklace" will always help her, the key is her own self".

and funny too, she is now part of the "older" generation herself with Sharapova finind herself to be the youngster here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post on Sania
. keep up the good work.