Wertheim's Opinion On Hingis Return
So, Marina Hingis is coming back. Will this go the way of Bjorn Borg's ill-fated comeback attempt? I'll never forget the spectacle of watching Serena Williams obliterate Hingis at the U.S. Open a few years ago. Surely the power game has left Hingis in the dust?
-- Dominic Ciafardini, New York City
Well, a dull week for tennis fans got a jolt yesterday with the announcement that Hingis was making a return. Lots of questions followed, most asking the same basic question: Does the Chuckster still have game? I called her people to get some more info. She's training in Florida and it looks like her mother, Melanie Molitor, will again coach her. Since her protected ranking has elapsed, it looks like she'll need to rely on wild cards for a while. Other than that, the details were sketchy.
As comeback announcements go, this wasn't a complete shock. Hingis, of course, played that small event in Thailand last year, which had all the earmarks of "I'm putting my toe back in the water as far away from their cameras as possible." She then played World Team Tennis -- with encouraging results -- and has played a number of exhibitions. The two outstanding questions: 1) Can her body hold up? And 2) Has she added any firepower to a game that, for the last few years, was akin to bringing a stiletto to a gun fight?
How do I see this playing out? Certainly more successfully than Borg's comeback. Hingis, to her credit, did enough prep work to get a sense of whether she's truly ready to rejoin the circus. She wouldn't be doing this if her feet weren't up to it. And remember that she is still only 25. Does she have the answer to the weaponry of a Sharapova, Clijsters, Pierce, Davenport or even Henin-Hardenne, who may be like-sized but has such superior racket speed? Probably not.
But on tactics and consistency alone, Hingis should win her share of matches. She will be a force on clay. She should benefit from the injury-mania that ravages every WTA draw these days. And, in the process, she gives the Tour one more bona fide star to showcase. Bottom line: I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for her to add to her stash of Grand Slam trophies. But it's awfully nice to have her back in the cast.