Long and short of it: Hingis armed for victory
Tennis fans have become accustomed to Martina Hingis setting the bar at new heights in the women's game.
And the 20-year-old world No1 continued that trend in the fashion stakes yesterday when sporting a new uniform at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
Hingis wore a lycra top with one long sleeve and one short during Switzerland's opening tie against Thailand at the Burswood Dome.
Hingis handed a 6-1 6-1 lesson to Tamarine Tanasugarn in just 44 minutes.
Her partner, Roger Federer, on Hopman Cup debut, sealed the tie for the tournament's top seed with a 6-4 6-2 win over Paradorn Srichaphan.
Tanasugarn had been expected to fare well after playing a leading role in guiding Thailand to last summer's final against South Africa.
She finished with a 4-1 singles record and held high hopes of catching the world No1 off guard yesterday.
But she was overwhelmed by Hingis's power game and superior groundstrokes.
Hingis said the long sleeve was for support and to protect her serving arm.
"This was the first time I was testing it in a real match, so I was very excited about it," she said
"It is to support the arm and we will see how it goes outside.
"So far, so good and it has been a lucky shirt."
Hingis said the new-look shirt had been the idea of a sponsor.
"People have their brains," she said.
"My job is to play tennis and theirs is to do something new, something different from other companies."
While yesterday's game was played under a closed roof, the shirt seems sure to leave Hingis with an unusual suntan line at outdoor events such as this month's Sydney International and Australian Open in Melbourne.
It is Hingis's fourth Hopman Cup, and the mixed-teams tournament remains one of the few she hasn't won.
She has been tantalisingly close, none closer than in 1996 when she and partner Marc Rosset withdrew at 5-5 in the third set of the deciding mixed doubles rubber.
The volatile Rosset was unable to continue after he slammed his fist into an advertising sign at the back of the court.
Meanwhile, Victorian Andrew Ilie will be looking for revenge on Lleyton Hewitt at the AAPT championships, which start in Adelaide today, AAP reports.
The 24-year-old, ranked 40th in the world, hopes to meet Hewitt in the men's singles draw and teach him a lesson.
"I am looking forward to getting him back one of these days," Ilie said yesterday after a practice session at Memorial Drive.
Ilie has lost to Hewitt several times recently and said it would be nice to get one back on the Adelaide teenager.
Ilie held a strong winning record over Hewitt when they played on the junior circuit a few years ago but Hewitt has since turned the tables.
Hewitt has accepted a wildcard entry into the tournament to defend his title and will face fellow Australian Wayne Arthurs in the first round.
Ilie said it was great to see Hewitt back in action after struggling with burnout.
"I'm really happy to see Lleyton up and going again," he said.
Ilie, the eighth seed, will play Belguim's Christophe Rochus in the first round tonight.
Ilie has lost to hard-hitting Rochus in each of their three encounters but hopes to turn things around.
"He's a solid baseline player and I think it's going to be a tough match which, hopefully, I can win," he said.
Ilie described himself as an all-rounder, capable of hitting hard from the baseline as well as attacking from the net.
Ilie said the Memorial Drive court was much faster than the surfaces he had been playing on in Melbourne and it might be difficult to adjust to the pace.
But he said the local crowd should be a bonus for the six Australians in the tournament.
The big first-round match features Britons Greg Rusedski and Tim Henman, the second seed.
Other first-round matches include Frenchman Sebastian Grosjean against Australian Jason Stoltenberg, Arnaud Clement versus Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi, and German Tommy Haas playing Australian wildcard entry Luke Smith.