Clijsters doubts Hingis could return to top again
HONG KONG: US Open champion Kim Clijsters on Wednesday said she doubted Martina Hingis could return to the top of the women’s game despite initial successes at her comeback tournament.
Clijsters said the 25-year-old former world number one was unlikely to "come close" to the domination that brought her five Grand Slams before injuries forced her early retirement in October 2002.
"I think it will be very hard for someone in her position, after a few years ago being world number one and winning so many tournaments and Grand Slams," said the Belgian.
"It will be very hard for her to come close to achieving those results again. I haven’t seen her play and I don’t know what shape she’s in but I am very excited. She’s a great girl too and she’s a lot of fun and I am happy to see her back."
Hingis registered the second win of her comeback on Wednesday when she beat Czech world number 35 Klara Koukalova 6-3, 6-2 at the Australian hard court tournament.
World number one Lindsay Davenport, who like Clijsters is also playing the Champions Challenge invitational here, has also warned that Hingis may find it tough to come back.
Women’s tennis has become physically more demanding over the past few years and also increasingly open, with four different players winning the 2005 Grand Slams. Clijsters, the world number two, said her own plans to retire at the end of next season were still in place despite bouncing back from injury to win her first Grand Slam and be named as ITF women’s world champion.
The 22-year-old, who missed most of 2004 with injury and was ranked at 134 when she returned to competition last February, said she finds it hard to stay on top of her game. She also dislikes flying and misses her boyfriend, Belgium-based American basketball player Brian Lynch. "Every two months, it feels that I have to improve and have to add something. I told myself that I was going to do this for two more years. I am going to give myself 100 percent and see how it goes," she said.
"The travelling is also very tough. I am not a very good flyer and it’s also difficult for my boyfriend and my family. When I get older and when I have kids one day I would like to play and have fun with them without having to worry about having bad knees."
The Williams sisters, defending champion Elena Dementieva and India’s Sania Mirza are also among the eight-player Champions Challenge line-up. Dementieva will play Serena Williams in the opening match later on Wednesday.