INTERVIEW-Hingis targets more grand slam glory
Sat Dec 3, 2005 4:41 PM GMT
By Mark Ledsom
ZURICH, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Former world number one Martina Hingis hopes to add to her tally of five grand slam singles titles following her surprise decision to return to the professional game.
Hingis says she is ready to challenge the world's best players, despite a three-year absence caused by a string of foot, heel and ankle problems.
"When you've been number one for four years, that's all you want, to compete with the best and possibly win grand slams," the 25-year-old told Reuters in an interview on Saturday.
"That's natural and the most normal thing for me."
The Swiss, who announced her surprise comeback last week, said she had no specific targets for next year and has not yet finalised exactly where and when she will make her competitive return.
Her manager Mario Widmer had earlier told reporters Hingis would "in all probability" compete at one of the Australian tournaments in January before her expected appearance at the Australian Open later that month.
"I don't want to talk about goals because I'm a very realistic person and don't want to live in a dream world," Hingis told Reuters.
"I would love to be world number one again, but I can only see if that's possible once I start competing again."
Despite three years on the sidelines, Hingis will need little introduction to her biggest rivals once the new season starts.
Reassuringly perhaps for Hingis, the next generation of women's tennis players are yet to make much of an impact in the sport's upper reaches. Of the current top 10, only Russia's Maria Sharapova is yet to face the Swiss.
"When people ask me who I really want to play, I always say Sharapova," Hingis said.
"Firstly, because she's the only one I haven't played, but also because she's won Wimbledon and been number one herself, so she's probably the young girl to aim for right now.
"When I look at the rest of the top 10 and see that Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce, Amelie Mauresmo and the Belgian girls (Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin) are still at the top, that definitely gives me hope."
Even if Hingis's opponents do not instil fear, her feet could yet prove the biggest obstacle to her ambitious comeback.
Although her doctor, Heinz Buehlmann, has given the player a clean bill of health, he warned on Saturday she might have to limit her schedule to prevent any recurrences.
"The surgery that she had on her ankle joints was for partial or total ligament ruptures but these have now healed and present no problem," Buehlmann told reporters.
"With her feet, there was the problem of chronic inflammations which is actually not a problem any more.
"It's a case of how much pressure she puts on the feet though -- so it could come back depending on how many tournaments she plays and how much training she does."