... a 16-year old Swiss was on the brink of greatness.
She had lost to Steffi Graf, one of the all time greats in the semi finals of the US Open after defeating Sanchez-Vicario and Novotna in the prevoius rounds.
A few weeks later, she pushed Steffi to 5 sets in final of the year end Championships.
Then came 1997, and she won the first tournament of the year she played (Sydney), defeating Capriati in the final.
Then the Australian Open, and the 4th ranked Hingis tore through the field winning the tournament without losing a set. She was to become the youngest player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam (to this day holds this record). Hingis certainly didn't lack confidence, stating in her victory speech that she would have played mixed doubles but that she should let someone else win (she won the women's doubles with Zvereva).
Hingis also won the Pan Pacific Open after a walkover in the final (she was to play Graf).
Hingis became the youngest #1 in the Open Era, when on 31 March, she was on top of the women's tennis ladder, at 16 years and 6 months.
Weeks later, she won the Paris indoors, defeating Huber in the final.
Hingis only lost 3 games to Seles in the final in Miami and defeated her once again in the final of Hilton Head (this time in 3 sets). Weeks prior to the French Open, Hingis fell off her horse lost to Iva Majoli in the final, after defeating Sanchez-Vicario and Seles in the 2 prior rounds.
Her next tournament, and it was Wimbledon. A much hyped semi final showdown with Kournikova turned into a one-sided affair as Hingis won it 3 and 2. After looking out of it in the first set, Hingis adjusted to the net play of Novotna in the final and won the most lucrative tennis tournament.
Hingis went on to win Stanford and San Diego, defeating Martinez and Seles in the finals.
On to the US Open, and Hingis scored wins over Sanchez-Vicario and Davenport in the quarter final and semi (both in straight sets). She took on the emerging star Venus Williams in the final and completely outclassed her, taking it 0 and 4.
Hingis went on to win Filderstadt (defeating Lisa Raymond in the final) and weeks later, won Philadelphia (defeating Davenport).
Hingis won 12 tournaments in 1997. She ended the year with a 75-5 win/loss record, equating to a .938 percentage (better than anyone in the 90's).
She began the 1997 season with 37 straight wins (equalling Navratilova and only behind Graf).
Ok, so i'm a bit bored and with 2007 just around the corner, it seems like a lifetime ago since Hingis burst onto the scene. Her talent was incredible back then, and combined with unsurpassed confidence, she was deadly. The backhand down the line, anticipation and all court play were all great assets she utilised brilliantly to tear through the field in 1997.
I for one, would love nothing more than to see her achieve Slam success once again, and while i concede it will be tough and the top of the women's game is strong at the moment, i still think she can do it. I hope she does it in her 10 year anniversary since she made a name for herself in the tennis world.
GO MARTI IN 2007.