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post #1 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 10th, 2005, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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Hingis still thinking about a comeback?

The Swiss missed

Hingis tries to find her game in backwaters

By WAYNE COFFEY
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

It's just past 11 p.m. in the suburbs and a warm wind is blowing off the Long Island Sound, the air as soggy as oatmeal.
At Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck, the 300 people who turned out for the season opener of the New York Sportimes, the local franchise of World Team Tennis, have long since departed. The player most of them came to see is alone in a tent, propped up on a table, getting her legs rubbed down by a trainer. Her name is on the back of her shirt, per WTT custom. She is the one player on the Sportimes who needs no identification.

Why would you, when you've won five Grand Slam singles titles, nine more in doubles? When you spent more than four years as the No. 1 player in the world?

"It seems like it's been awhile," Martina Hingis says with a faint smile.

Twenty miles and three years removed from her last professional match in New York - a round-of-16 loss to Monica Seles at the U.S. Open - Hingis returned to one of her favorite cities in the world last week, finding herself in a strange sort of limbo. At 24, she is way too young for a mid-life crisis, and way too old to be considered a prodigy.

Hingis' two surgically repaired ankles are healthy. Her 5-7, 130-pound body looks fit, if not tour-ready. She forged an astonishing career out of two gifted hands and a tennis mind that had no equal, anticipating shots, knowing where she needed to be, talents that enabled her to flourish even against the vastly more powerful Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport.

Now her mind is trying to decipher something else entirely: whether she is going to make a comeback to the women's tour, or just take her $18 million career earnings and move on.

It is no easy decision. Before the Sportimes played the Hartford FoxForce last week, she sat in a hot tent with a grass floor and took questions from three reporters. "It's not like (this is) a comeback," she said. "I'm just playing some matches."

Later, after she'd lost in singles (to Meghann Shaughnessy) and in mixed doubles (with Mark Merklein) but won in women's doubles (with Jenny Hopkins), she was not so definite.

"I am just enjoying playing tennis. We will see what will pop out after that."

It was eight years ago that Hingis took hold of the tennis world, a sweet-faced Swiss girl who, at 16 years, 6 months, became the youngest No. 1 ranked player in history. But for a loss to Iva Majoli in the French Open, she would've swept all four Grand Slams in 1997. She won 67 of 69 matches at one point that year, and there was nothing to suggest that she wouldn't continue to dominate for years to come, before Venus and Serena Williams emerged and Davenport became re-energized, and Hingis began to experience persistent ankle trouble and periodic big-match meltdowns, most notably in the 1999 French final to Steffi Graf and the 2002 Australian Open final to Jennifer Capriati.

Hingis wound up having surgery on her left ankle in May, 2002, and was probably too ambitious coming back for the U.S. Open. After a straight set loss to Elena Dementieva, she dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in six years - and then dropped off the tour.

For the first two years away, Hingis reveled in the respite from the globetrotting grind that is pro tennis. She skied, rode horses and spent time with boyfriends. She started doing some tennis commentary work, and with a steady influx of fan letters, began to wonder if she should give tennis another shot. That Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters returned after extended time offered encouragement.

Five months ago, Hingis entered a small tournament in Thailand, where she lost to 73rd-ranked Marlene Weingartner of Germany, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2. She said to read nothing into her re-appearance, and is still saying that, about her first foray into WTT.

Hingis played her first three singles sets for the Sportimes last week, and admitted to being nervous before them. She defeated Carly Gullikson of the Philadelphia Freedoms in her debut, then lost to Shaughnessy, before shutting out her namesake, Martina Navratilova, 5-0 (WTT contests are single-set affairs, with the first player to win five games prevailing), in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday night.

"Maybe (Hingis is) toying with the idea of playing again," says Billie Jean King, founder of the WTT. "I don't know. (But) she's been an unbelievable ambassador for the league and for tennis, and she's playing unbelievably well."

At her best, Hingis relished few things more than beating stronger, quicker, opponents with her soft hands and savvy shotmaking. "The game isn't just power. I still believe someone like me or Justine (the 5-6 Henin-Hardenne) can succeed," she says.

A half-hour before the match with the FoxForce, Hingis is the attraction of a meet-and-greet in a hospitality tent. She poses for pictures and signs autographs, which she does again for a half-hour after the Sportimes win the match. As Harbor Island Park empties, Hingis heads back to the Sportimes clubhouse. She doesn't know what the future will bring, only that it feels sweet to be back on a tennis court.

"I love the game," Hingis says. "It's a beautiful game."
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post #2 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 05:52 AM
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thanks for the article

it's so cool reading all these martina articles again!

i really wish she was able to make a successful comeback!
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post #3 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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I think this just gives her a chance to play a game she loves against sme of the world's best players, without needed the five and six hour a day workouts of the WTA tour.

I'm glad she's getting to play.

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post #4 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 06:05 AM
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It would do the tour good if she came back.

Really, don't even look at me...
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post #5 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 06:17 AM
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if she really wants to be back she should not be too proud if she loses every now and again just because she was great before. but i'm really hoping she does well and perhaps influence anna k to come back as well.

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post #6 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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And look how far women's doubles has fallen I think she could come back in doubles and capture Grand Slam titles with a good partner!
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post #7 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 06:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deja_entendu
And look how far women's doubles has fallen I think she could come back in doubles and capture Grand Slam titles with a good partner!
Hingis really never needed good partners to win slams. She was to play with mostly anyone and win slams. I do think now she would probably need a doubles partner in the top 100. Although she could still probably still win slams with Anna Kournikova if she wanted to.
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post #8 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 10:34 AM
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COMMENT:
Welcome to the real world, my friend, where you should take with a grain of salt what journalists have to say in whatever field. Journalists, especially in sports can't get a continous flowing stream of news, so they have to contrive stuff, resucitate players, manufacture unproven new ones, etc. Otherwise, they don't get a paycheck.
In the case of Martina, observe that this guy is just making subjective opinions: "her body LOOKS fit , tour ready". Well that his judgement. It is not what the medical reports say. Again her TWO ankle operations, one for arthrosis in 01 and two torn ligaments in 02 were succesful in allowing her a normal human walking ability. But not necessarilly for a normal tennis pro life, such as 5 hrs a day of practice and weekly tournaments. Dr Buehlmann,her surgeon, was actually blatant about it : "if she practices for more than two hours you' ll see her cringing her face because although her ligaments are repaired the stress of practice will produce inflammation and severe pain will ensue." Again you call him at the clinic and verify this for yourself.
Also, do you really think that someone like Hingis, a natural genius for tennis and who knows nothing of anything else, wouldn't be playing pro at her age if she wasn't physically impeded? Of course, she would. Besides she wouldn't have to bother wih ITF's. Any major tournament would gladly give her WC's.
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post #9 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 10:48 AM
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I have a feeling that she'll be back one day, much like I had a feeling about Venus would still win slams.

I'm going with my gut instincts. She'll be back.

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post #10 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cris Senior
COMMENT:
Welcome to the real world, my friend, where you should take with a grain of salt what journalists have to say in whatever field. Journalists, especially in sports can't get a continous flowing stream of news, so they have to contrive stuff, resucitate players, manufacture unproven new ones, etc. Otherwise, they don't get a paycheck.
In the case of Martina, observe that this guy is just making subjective opinions: "her body LOOKS fit , tour ready". Well that his judgement. It is not what the medical reports say. Again her TWO ankle operations, one for arthrosis in 01 and two torn ligaments in 02 were succesful in allowing her a normal human walking ability. But not necessarilly for a normal tennis pro life, such as 5 hrs a day of practice and weekly tournaments. Dr Buehlmann,her surgeon, was actually blatant about it : "if she practices for more than two hours you' ll see her cringing her face because although her ligaments are repaired the stress of practice will produce inflammation and severe pain will ensue." Again you call him at the clinic and verify this for yourself.
Also, do you really think that someone like Hingis, a natural genius for tennis and who knows nothing of anything else, wouldn't be playing pro at her age if she wasn't physically impeded? Of course, she would. Besides she wouldn't have to bother wih ITF's. Any major tournament would gladly give her WC's.
CS
If indeed you are correct, and she is medically unable to train, practise and make a career on the tour - it seems unlikely she would say:

"I am just enjoying playing tennis. We will see what will pop out after that."

It hardly kills the rumour mill does it? One doctor can be wrong, in fact two, three doctors could be wrong, and given similar comments to the above she made in the last year, it seems more a question over whether she is willing to make the sacrifices to get back to the top of the game.

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post #11 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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It's pretty clear that she is toying with the idea of coming back or at least wishes she could. I think if she is fit and healthy most importantly, she should just bite the bullet and do it because otherwise she will probably always think, what if?
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post #12 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xanadu11
It's pretty clear that she is toying with the idea of coming back or at least wishes she could. I think if she is fit and healthy most importantly, she should just bite the bullet and do it because otherwise she will probably always think, what if?
Yeah that's what i think too. Unless if the injuries are that bad.

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post #13 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 11:46 AM
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Lovely article, thx

I still don't believe that Martina can ever make a full time comeback to the tour, her ankles probably can't endure that much pressure. However I think that if she wants to she could play a few smaller tournaments once in a while or even play grand slam doubles.


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post #14 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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Hingis,myskina and henin hardenne in a press conference....wow? Lets see a Hingis-Sharapova match on centre court.

All that would be great, but she has not signed on yet.
oh well.

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post #15 of 51 (permalink) Old Jul 11th, 2005, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fantastic
If Martina makes a comeback, I think a few short stints on the tour to ensure a decent ranking would suffice her. She could start her year in Europe, playing Paris and Antwerp, take a break until Berlin and Rome, then her beloved French Open and Wimbledon. Hop over to the US late into the season, play in Canada and then the US Open. Then she could rest until Filderstadt and Zurich later in the year. That's 10 tournaments a year.

Sadly, I think she'd prefer to play more than that, so an abbreviated tour for her would not satisfy her. Playing a decent doubles schedule like Martina Navratilova is a possibility, but I don't think Martina values doubles as much as she does singles, even though she's better at doubles.
If she played only 10 tournaments a year...I don't think it would take her very high on the rankings...maybe Top 100 if she's lucky, because the tournaments that you listed, she would probably face a big-named player early on (like Amelie in Paris or Justine in Berlin), and probably lose.

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