View Full Version : The Hingis dilemma

Martian Mel
Jan 29th, 2002, 06:13 PM
The Hingis dilemma

By Tony Profumo
Date: 29/1/2002

It was the finals of women's doubles competition at the 2002 Australian Open. Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova were battling Arantxa Sanchez-Vacario and Daniela Hantuchova for the title.

It was Martina's third three set match in two days and looming on the horizon was Jennifer Capriati and a highly charged women's single final.

One of their opponents lofted a really good lob over the heads of Hingis and Kournikova. It was on Anna's side of the court, but she was caught a little flat footed. Martina saw the ball coming down and was faced with a choice of two moves. She could just concede the point, since she and Anna were probably going to win the match, anyway. Or, she could try to chase the lob down.

Martina took off like a shot and got the ball back into play and eventually, won the point when the talented Hantuchova was caught flat footed on a volley attempt. It was a spectacular play, but it also pretty much summed up the problem faced by Martina Hingis, tennis' most creative, most talented and most malaigned player these days.

Martina has often said that playing tennis is a little like playing chess. She's been known as the best tactician in the sport, but for the last few years, she's been losing the really big singles titles, and it appears that her off court stategizing is not nearly as good as her own court mastery of tactics.

Chasing down that lob is something most players simply would not have even attempted, or at best,they would have started for the ball, then let it go. But Martina Hingis is not most players. Martina Hingis loves the sport she plays. Sure, it was going to sap some of her energy to chase that lob down, but she might be able to get to it, and if she threw up a good enough shot of her own, she might get the ball back into play, and then she might just be able to win the point.

That point points out Martina's current dilemma and also, something of tennis' dilemma. Hingis is not only the most accomplished shotmaker in the business, she is also one of the few top players who goes out there because she enjoys her profession. You could almost see the wheels turning in her head when she took off after that lob. It was one more impossible shot she wanted to make, just for the thrill of making an impossible shot.

The trouble is, Hingis found her self in the finals the next day facing defending champ Capriati after having played nine sets of tennis in the previous two days. How much did that contribute to her downfall? No one,not even Martina herself, knows for sure. But she suffered from the heat so much in the final that she admitted not wanting to go back out on court for the third set.

Of course, Martina Hingis did go back out. She always does. It takes the kind of on court injury that she sustained in Felderstadt, Germany last fall to keep her from finishing a match. In an era when some players will pull out over a bad hair day, Hingis remains committed to the idea that you don't quit before the match is over, end of story.

She didn't quit on her next tournament, either. Despite what must have been a gutt wrenching loss and honest physical problems, Hingis soldiered on to the next stop on the tour, Tokyo, when many other players would have claimed fatigue or come up with some other excuse about why they couldn't keep their commitment.

But here in lies the rub. Hingis has been pillared mercilessly in the tennis press for the last three years for using the computer to hang on to the number one ranking. The truth is, she has played about the same number of tournaments as most other girls on the tour, and far fewer than a few others. But the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport played less, so rather than being praised for living up to the
responsibilities of her position as the world's number one player, Hingis has been savaged by the media.

But is the media right? Should Hingis play less? It might actually work out better for her, since she usually seems to do well when she comes into tournaments well rested. After all, it is not that she cannot beat the big players. Her record last year was 1-1 against Venus Williams, 2-1 against Serena Williams, 1-1 against Davenport. It's beating two and sometimes, three of them in a row at the end of long tournaments which has proven impossible for her in the last couple of years.

But the promoters and organizers of smaller tournaments will probably miss having the Swiss Miss around. While a controversial figure, she is also one of the most admired people in the sport, with a strong personal following.

Others think she should pass on doubles play, just as most top men have done for years, and just as more and more of the top women now seem to be doing.But tennis certainly won't prosper from that either. The Hingis/Kournikova duo is one of the most successful doubles teams around, winning all but a couple of tournaments they have entered. They are also the most glamourous act the sport has today and bound to become an even bigger act if they keep playing and keep winning. Women's doubles is going to become a TV sport because of them.

In fact, rather than getting Martina to stop playing doubles, it seems to me tennis should do things to make doubles a more player friendly competition. How? Rain delays backed up the scheduling at the Australian Open, but I still see no reason why the ladies doubles final had to be played the day before the singles final. It should have been put off until later Saturday evening, or even scheduled for Sunday morning, before the men's doubles match. The added option of getting to see Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova on court before the men's final probably would not have driven too many paying customers away.

But there in a nutshell is the problem. Does Hingis, who loves to play tennis, pull back; does she play less tennis so she can win more singles titles? Do you make her unhappy, the promoters unhappy, and ultimately, the fans unhappy, so that she can place more grand slam singles trophies in her trophy case?

While some players have made it plain their lives don't exactly revolve around tennis, one of the sport's most devoted players; it's most accomplished shotmaker and strategist; and the one top player who tries the hardest to live up to her responsibilities; has to decide if she should cut back. Should she do less of what she loves so she can be more successful.
And will the fans wind up being the poorer for it?

Jan 29th, 2002, 06:20 PM
thx that was great :D


Martian Mel
Jan 29th, 2002, 06:23 PM
I know Marti fan;)

Seems like the press has fallen in love with Martina!Too bad that they didn't know this earlier.We know it for ages!:D


Jan 29th, 2002, 06:29 PM
A good article. I think that one of the problems that Martina has is that she doesn't get very many easy points. She has to fight for every point, and maintain a very high level of play and concentration throughout a match to win it. (against the top players anyway) This is obviously difficult. And I think her best bet would be to play fewer tournaments, as the article suggests. I don't think it's fluke that her best GS results have been in Oz, before which she has an enforced break.

Jan 29th, 2002, 06:37 PM
yeah it does seem that the press is starting to give her alot more credit which she deserves :D ... its a shame they didn't see it before now but then again "better late than never" :(

we love you marti ! :) :wavey:

Jan 29th, 2002, 07:11 PM
Cough,Cough!(Barrie Choking on excess of Hingis/Butt Kissing article

Jan 29th, 2002, 08:00 PM
I'd rather kiss Martina's butt than a lot of many others. :p

Jan 29th, 2002, 08:10 PM
Absolutely sk, Martina has to win every point in the same way. Whether she's 40-0 up, or at match point.

She doesn't have the luxury of being able to pull out a big first or second shot off a quality ball.

Jan 29th, 2002, 08:14 PM
<center> <font size=7 color="grey"> GO MARTINA!!!!!! </font> </center>




:) :) :) :)

Jan 29th, 2002, 08:14 PM
Kissing Hingis' ass. Nice way of putting things. After all she's the most maligned player in the business ........

Jan 29th, 2002, 08:17 PM
Excellent article and gives one food for thought...Lets face it..Martina had a terrible 2001....Lost in the final to Jen in AO (after defeating the both Willies) she had a fallout with her mother..at one point...had another bowout at the French Open...LOST in the first match at Wimbledon....had that damn stalker trial..in the meantime she can't get past the big hitters in any of the tournaments...sort of regrouped a bit (but she'd be the first to admit did not train as hard as she should have and did not address her weak serve which everybody was screaming for her to do)....was blown away by Serena at the American Open...finished off the Kremlin cup with Anna...should have beaten Elena D. there to capture the title..and then got hurt in Germany.....now, 2002 a chance to heal her ankle and get stronger...and she did that coming out of the gate with such fire in her game...winning Sydney and then going into AO with much needed confidence!! Well, we all know what happened there? but do we REALLY know what happened.??..I imagine its a mystery to Martina herself...but a "Golden Opportunity" lost...down the drain...never to get a chance like that again! So Yes, cut back on the tournaments....the Willies are always prone to injury and so I think thats the main reason why they do so...so I think it will benefit Martina's game as well. Goodluck in Tokyo
Marti!! :hearts:

Bright Red
Jan 29th, 2002, 08:20 PM
It started off a good article. There was no need to almost bash Venus and Lindsay and others. Even Hingis would agree that it's not a bad thing to have a life other than tennis. Silly writer.

Jan 29th, 2002, 10:24 PM
i don't think that article really bashed other players at all... they didn't praise them but statin that they play fewer tournis is not really bashin them. i thought it was a nicely written article..in all the hype with jen's win, it's nice to see an article praising marti for a change. this was a great read and i'm very glad that you (martina hingisova) shared it with us

Jan 30th, 2002, 12:22 AM
Mushy-mushy, butter won't melt in my mouth......
Give me a break!

Jan 30th, 2002, 12:34 AM
I don't see any bashing of Williams sisters and Lindsay :confused:

It's a nice article :), a refreshing change from all the articles going on about Hingis not winning a grand slam that I have kept coming across in the last few months.

Bright Red
Jan 30th, 2002, 01:36 AM
Please note that I said "almost bash".

Thank you.

Jan 30th, 2002, 03:43 AM
Great article!So much on one point..:rolleyes:

Jan 30th, 2002, 04:17 AM
I'm in insulin shock after reading that too-sweet article.

It's an obvious bash on the Williams sisters. Who do you think wrote the article? It's Ton Pro from the sanex board, who has made his contempt for them quite clear in the past. While he has carefully not made a reference to any players in this regard, it is clear to whom he is referring at least twice, suggesting pull-outs and no shows on either phony grounds, or because tennis is not their main priority. Where's Get Christie Love! when you need her, she'd never let this pass without good critical comment! ;)

That said, he makes a lot of really good points. Martina does play a very full schedule, makes a lot commitments, and sticks to them. This does help the tour, which is sometimes forgotten, it's just too bad he chooses to make this point in a manner that cuts down other players. It's easily made without pejorative references. Hingis is great on all surfaces, apparently doesn't mind a lot of travel, is not injury proned, and is popular world wide. She chooses then to play a lot and in doing this, has really helped events by being their marquee player, though I think he overestimates her popularity in the U.S. a bit. But what is a little irritating is that he claims she does all of this for pure love of the game in an altruistic gesture to the tour and to promote tennis everywhere. It does not cross his mind (or he chooses not to see this) that she may be motivated in whole or at least in part by hefty appearance fees that I am certain she commands, prize money, increased fame and exposure, and ranking points. Case in point, he refuses to acknowledge that her trip to the Middle East last year may have been for these precise reasons, not because she cared about bringing the sport to that area to promote the tour. There were quite heated debates about this last year. And she did not maintain No. 1 almost exclusively from Jan of 1999 through last year on her results in Slams alone. But she is a big asset to the tour, and I think that has been forgotten as she's taken a lot of heat for maintaining a "hollow" No. 1 ranking when in doing so, she has played many events that really needed a big name and she is the only "top" player to show up in that role in a lot of instances. It is not her fault that playing a lot and playing well are very well rewarded under the current system. Anyway, it is a good article in many ways, but smacks of rose-colored glasses. There's lots to praise about Martina without putting down the rest of the tour.

Jan 30th, 2002, 05:20 AM
lmao@Celeste!! :D
too funny.

Jan 30th, 2002, 05:33 AM
Hey moon! No, it's Ton Pro--he always claimed (in a pejorative manner of course) that he was a sports writer. Tony Profumo--it's the same person. I guess his boast was not an idle one. Thus, whatever he says goes because we are not sports writers, though he has admitted that Martina will never give him an interview and Melanie is "cold" to him at Indian Wells and elsewhere. Of course, if Richard was "cold" to him there would be another article on that alone. While I think Richard may be Svengali-like, Melanie is no less so, let's buy a clue here! Though, where was this article published? Anyway, the points are good, but he can't resist a little dig on the Williams sisters. What is sad is that he could have made the same point with no dig, which to me puts the article's credibility in question! LOL! :D

Jan 30th, 2002, 03:04 PM
I think the article was from a Hingis news site, cos I remember seeing another article (on Hingis and the media) by him on there.

Jan 30th, 2002, 03:34 PM
to paraphrase a well used comeback, made famous by some fans:

"how do you know why she did something.... are you in her head.... are you her best friend or agent or something.... yadda yadda".

I liked the article.

Jan 30th, 2002, 03:44 PM
great article

as a rule, i like all pro-marti articles :D

Jan 30th, 2002, 04:25 PM
If it is Ton Pro (who I always found to be opiniated, thoroughly knowlegable, fair but with a 'natural' bias towards Hingis), then that's even better.

I like the article, I don't think it bashes the Williamses at all.

Jan 30th, 2002, 06:43 PM
What a great article. Everything he said is accurate especially the comment "she is not just another player". Yes Martina is one of a kind, that is fact. She is in a class of her own. I wish everyone could read this article so that they could see how special Martina really is.

Jan 30th, 2002, 07:41 PM
You just know that the people who don't like the article would be dancing around the room if the article had been about their faves. It's rare to see a favourable article like this about Martina Hingis. If it's not about her Slamless couple of years, it's about her hold on the No. 1 ranking. And if it's not about that, it's about her lack of power or her attitude when she was a confident teenager. You always read these types of things in the big publications. So a little article from a smaller source is especially welcoming. Thank you Tony Profumo. :)