Hingis beaten in semis
January 6, 2006 - 6:45PM
Martina Hingis refused to blame a hip injury for her semi-final exit today from the Australian Women's Hardcourts tennis tournament while the unearthing of rising Czech star Lucie Safarova continued.
Hingis' fulltime comeback to professional tennis came to a grinding halt at the hands of Italian Flavia Pennetta, who defeated the former world number one 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 at Royal Pines in one hour, 47 minutes.
The 25-year-old Hingis suffered a left hip flexor strain towards the end of the second set which she lost in a tiebreak before succumbing to world No.23 Pennetta in the third.
Hingis immediately withdrew from the doubles semi-final in which she and French partner Tatiana Golovin were due to meet Zimbabwe's Cara Black and Australian Renae Stubbs.
Fourth seed Pennetta booked a date in tomorrow's final with Safarova, who displayed some devastating hitting in her resounding 6-4 6-2 win over world No.20 Dinara Safina, the 19-year-old sister of Russian star Marat Safin.
Hingis's injury will be assessed over the next couple of days, although at this stage she is not in doubt for the Sydney International starting on Sunday.
"As a player and a competitor you try to overcome things like that and still play until the end of the match,''
said Hingis about the hip injury.
"I don't want to take anything away from Pennetta, she played a great match.
"I was able to compete with her. It was great tennis and everyone enjoyed it.
"You can't always expect everything to be perfect with your body when you haven't done that much in three years.''
Hingis said she was satisfied with her efforts in her serious comeback to tennis following her retirement in 2002 - due to a series of foot, heel and ankle injuries - after a tentative return at the Thailand Open last February.
"If I was to evaluate this tournament right away, I'm very happy and very positive about what I've achieved this week,''
said Hingis, who has won five grand slam tournaments, including three Australian Opens.
"I don't think anybody expected me to come out like this so it's pretty good.''
Pennetta will face the future of women's tennis in the unseeded Safarova, who has risen from a world ranking of 196 this time last year to 47 going into her fourth WTA final.
The tag "giant-killer'' can now be applied to Safarova following her wins over two-time Gold Coast winner Ai Sugiyama in the first round and defending champion, No.1 seed and world No.7 Patty Schnyder in last night's quarter final.
Safarova, who won two WTA Tour events last year, produced some remarkable return of serves this week to prove she could pose a real threat at the Australian Open starting on January 16.
"I enjoy playing with pace, I am used to it,''
"At the (tennis) club there are no other girls, so I am used to playing against the boys who hit the ball very hard and I enjoy it.''