Just an interesting quite funny article I came across...
Hingis, Dokic Enter WTA Injury Fray for 2006
By Richard Vach, Tennis-X.com Senior Writer
The news that former No. 1 Martina Hingis plans a full-on (and not the teaser from last year) return from retirement for 2006, and that troubled former No. 4-ranked Serb-Aussie Jelena Dokic will emerge from the dregs of minor-league play and return to Australia, are not so surprising once you're familiar with the back stories.
Hingis, who hung it up in 2002 after various foot injuries, found that filling her house with furniture, riding her horses, dabbling in tennis commentary and dating fellow athletes/celebrities wasn't meeting her competitive desires -- nor that ever-gnawing need to be in the spotlight.
Dokic, whose ranking plunged into the 300s, found that taking to the minor leagues (see: Andre Agassi) to revive your career doesn't quite work when you even then can't win matches, and running back to Tennis Australia for wildcard assistance was the way to go.
Both players have been among the world's elite, but both will find the 2006 WTA Tour an un-welcoming environment -- not in their reception by other players, but in being on the receiving end of other players' rocket attacks.
Hingis' guile and chess-like perception of the court kept her on top of the WTA Rankings for 209 weeks, but it was the power games of newcomers such as the Williams sisters that helped drive her out. At 16 years old she was the youngest player to reach No. 1, and now at 25 is well past "middle age" for a tennis player.
"Martina Hingis is one of the game's great champions and unique personalities," said Larry Scott, CEO of the WTA Tour. "For fans of women's tennis, Martina's return will add another level of excitement to the sport and enhance the incredible rivalries and roster of big-name stars. Her passion for the game has never wavered and we look forward to her return."
Problem is, her passion for the game has wavered.
Last February when the Swiss played her lone 2005 event at Pattaya City, she rolled to a 6-1, 2-1, 40-0 lead over Germany's Marlene Weingartner in the first round before her fitness gave in to a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 loss.
Hingis petered out in one match. Whatever fitness regime that led up to that appearance must have included a good amount of sitting on the couch watching the horses frolic out back. It was at that moment that the Swiss realized a true comeback would take a lot of hard work -- perhaps too much sprinting sweating for a 25-year-old millionaire to bother with.
"I've never had plans further than this step. Maybe I'll play some exhibitions," Hingis said after the loss. "That's my plan at the moment. At this point I have no plans to play any more tournaments."
Now the Swiss Miss says she will be back with what sounds like a full campaign, and Australian Open organizers are waiting with open arms.
"I've had contact with Martina's management, but she has not made a decision yet," said Australian Open chief executive Paul McNamee, speaking with the Herald Sun. "She is a possibility, but not a probability, to play the Open. It might be 50-50. The door is open. It would be really exciting if she was to play the Open again. We would make her as welcome as possible."
Hingis appeared in an amazing six consecutive Aussie Open finals from 1997-2002, winning her first three and dropping the last three, then retiring.
In Dokic's case, Aussie Open organizers say the Serb will need to do some cleaning up before being offered her meal ticket.
Dokic's willingness to end her three-year Aussie Open exile means she will report to the Aussie Open wildcard training camp, and must fight it out with young Aussie hopefuls to earn a wildcard spot. Which she will likely lose, and then probably be handed a spot in the main draw after all.
"Jelena is going to be at the Australian Open training camp and she will be in the playoff," McNamee said. "We won't be making any decision on wildcards for the Australian Open until after the playoffs. There will be a level playing field for everyone. We will be fair with every player."
Sure...Jelena won't get any special treatment (wink wink). In the end it would be a shocker if Dokic returned to the Aussie fold and they then left her out in the cold. You'd have to think one of the eight wildcards would fall her way.
The reasons Dokic is unlikely to navigate challenge matches in a field of Aussie scrubs to earn a wildcard are her results over the last 12 months, and more importantly her state of mind. Last year she went 3-6 in tour play before dropping down to the ITF minor league circuit where she lost first round at Italian events in Fano and Cuneo, lost in the ITF qualifying at Petange, Luxembourg, then ended the season by making it through the qualifying and losing second round at the ITF event in Martina Franca, Italy.
Not exactly the results dreams are made of. At ITF minor league tournaments. When you used to be No. 4 in the world. Yikes.
On the state-of-mind tip, the 22-year-old Dokic will be competing without the support of crazy-dad Damir, the recipient of constant furtive glances from the court as the insecure Dokic plied her trade earlier in her career.
Now the estranged Damir, after his antics and heavy-handedness with his daughter over the years, gets to hear about Jelena only through his wife.
"Jelena phoned her mother and told her she plans to travel to Melbourne in December to prepare for the Australian Open," Damir told Kurir, a Serbian newspaper. "She wants to take Australian citizenship when she is there and to play at the Australian Open as an Australian citizen...She phoned my wife from Croatia saying she was OK. I thought she had been kidnapped or something. She did not call for three months and I was about to ring the police."
How much confidence will Dokic have in 2006 after this year failing to reach even a quarterfinal in the minor leagues -- and Hingis, competing against superior firepower on two surgically-repaired feet?
"Confidence has a lot to with it," said Dokic in March at Indian Wells, speaking with ********************'s Matt Cronin. "I'm that kind of player. Physically I have gone back to zero. Mentally I feel better. But it takes so much to come back to a good level. I've had to suffer. When you don't play, it's difficult to do it again. But for me to say I'm going to do it is a big step."
If Dokic was zero then, is it safe to assume she's less than zero heading to Australia. And when Hingis shows up with that powerpuff serve she displayed in World Team Tennis play, will that faze Maria Sharapova, the Belgians or the Williams sisters?
Whether their latest forays pan out for Hingis or Dokic (or fellow injury victims Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles, or the handful of players that missed the WTA Championships with injuries), you've got to hand it to the WTA -- by luck or design, the women want to play, and the comebacks adds a freak-show-type element to the game that attracts even fringe fans.
Will Hingis or Dokic ever win another WTA title? Or even a match? Can the Swiss return to her bitchy best (remember when she shouted down a reporter questioning her rivalry with Anna Kournikova, saying it isn't a rivalry when only one player wins?), or Dokic to her mopey one-dimensional baseline banging that earned her five singles titles? What will they say in their post-match conferences? Will Hingis resume her delicious war of words/egos with the Williams sisters? Will her mom Melanie, who is busy running her own tennis academies, drop everything to coach her again?
You don't see this kind of excitement on the men's side, with Pete Sampras taking a Wimbledon wildcard or John McEnroe and Peter Fleming announcing they will play doubles at the US Open, or Yevgeny Kafelnikov hitting the challenger circuit to accrue some poker-entry money. Or money for greens fees, or entering eating contests, or whatever his fat ass is up to nowadays.
Anyhoo, welcome back to a couple 20-somethings whose careers were cut short by injury, both physical and mental. Martina and Jelena, you're going to get hammered by the competition -- but the tour has changed in the last few years. It's not so much who's the best anymore, or who hits the ball the hardest, but who can stay uninjured the longest who thrive. Example: Lindsay Davenport, who stayed uninjured longer than Sharapova or US Open winner Kim Clijsters to finish No. 1 this year, without winning a slam. The other three slam winners (Serena, Venus, Henin-Hardenne) were too injured to show up or qualify for the year-end championships.
Good luck to the Hingis', the Dokics, the Capriatis, the Seles', the host of players who through injury or mishap have been kept away from the game they love. Year after year the WTA's top players have been hit with an increasing number of injuries that the sport's governing body (or "player union") refuses to address -- so as you've probably learned ladies, you're on your own. May you have the courage to persevere through what will undoubtedly be more tough times next year, and the luck to stay healthy throughout 2006.
Here's what you're up against:
WTA CEO Larry Scott on injuries in 2004:
I think it's a real fluke, it's at the beginning of the year. If this were the end of the season, we'd chalk it up to wear and tear. I've spoken to a lot of people and whether it's Amelie Mauresmo injuring her back in the middle of a match or Serena or Jennifer Capriati getting hurt, there's no pattern...I think all these players going down so early in the season is an unfortunate confluence of some unconnected events. We've looked at past years and there's nothing to explain why there has been so many more injuries this year. I'm concerned about it, but I'm careful not to overreact."
WTA CEO Larry Scott on injuries in 2005:
"It is a bit of a fluke that so many players are injured at the same time and I don't expect this to happen next summer. Having said that, we want to do everything possible to keep the players as healthy and playing as much as possible."
WTA CEO Larry Scott on injuries in 2006:
"(insert fluke comment, need-players-playing-a-lot comment here)"
Richard Vach is a senior writer for Tennis-X.com.