Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks for all your congratulations. Here is the article for u jomar and anyone else who missed it: <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2002:<br />Martina: The champion's renaissance
By Robert Kelly, Victoria, Australia
A quality intrinsic to any champion is resilience, we need only look as far back as the embattled Graf, the brutalised Seles, the pioneering Navratilova, the once outmoded Evert, the revitalised Capriati or the slimmed down Davenport. Each returned, from the depths of professional or personal despair, to recapture their form and emphatically etch their names in history. Martina Hingis is a champion, and her victory at Australian Open 2002 will encapsulate the very essence of a champion's resilience.
The effortless brilliance of Hingis' 1997 season highlighted her talent, yet by the end of 1998, a season marked by complacency and the arrival of more powerful nemeses, Hingis had been "swamped". Although she returned in 1999 fitter and more focused, ending that season ranked number 1, her vulnerability was apparent. 2000 and 2001 failed to reap a Grand Slam title. By the end of 2001 her ranking had slipped to number 4 and her mystique had vanished as she was increasingly over powered at the top level.
After witnessing this consistent decline how can I select her as top pick for a tournament in which she is likely to face numerous power hitters?
The answer is simple; statistics never lie. Statistics dictate that despite her inability to win a Grand Slam since the Australian Open 1999 she has consistently reached the latter rounds including three times to the semi finals or beyond in 2001. Even more impressive is her record in Australia where in her past 5 visits she has triumphed on three occasions and been runner-up twice while reaching 5 consecutive finals. She loves Australia, the rebound ace and crucially heat and humidity do not perturb her.
Add to this the fact that none of her major rivals, with the exception of Lindsay Davenport, have shown that they can consistently produce high quality tennis this early in the season. The Williams sister's arrive unprepared and have never shown their best tennis in Australia, including several early exits. Capriati's fitness remains in question, evidenced by her dismal late season form, and is ripe for a letdown.
Unlike many of the mercurial heavy hitters, we can be sure that Martina will be fit and ready to tackle the first major of the year. Hingis is a champion and after almost three years of tumult and soul searching, like the great champion's of the past she is poised to mount a fight back.