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January 12, 2002

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (TICKER) -- Martina Hingis picked the right time to start winning tennis tournaments again.

Hingis notched her first title in 11 months, claiming the adidas International with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Meghann Shaughnessy on Saturday (Friday night in the United States).

In the men's final of the $966,000 hardcourt tourney, Roger Federer of Switzerland dispatched Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, 6-3, 6-3.

One day after recording her 500th career match win, Hingis won for the first time since February 2001 at Dubai. Despite the drought, she was the top-ranked player in the world for most of the year.

"It's been a while and it is great coming back after (last fall's ankle) injury and surgery," Hingis said. "I probably extended my own expectations that I was going to do so well so quickly but it's definitely a good beginning."

As the second seed, the "Swiss Miss" defended her title in this event and ended her drought just 48 hours before the start of the Australian Open. Last year, she reached the final of the first Grand Slam of the season, losing to Jennifer Capriati.

Hingis is seeded third in the Open and faces Virginie Razzano of France in the first round.

"For sure this win gives me a lot of confidence going into Melbourne," she said. "We had six of the Top 10 here this week, and I had tough matches winning against (Sadrine) Testud, (Kim) Clijsters and now Shaughnessy. I think I am a better player now than say, three years ago when I won the Australian Open last."

The eighth-seeded Shaughnessy advanced when No. 4 Serena Williams had to retire from Friday's semifinal. Williams held a 5-4 lead when she suffered an ankle injury.

Shaughnessy is seeded 10th in the Open and will meet Alexandra Stevenson of the U.S. Williams is seeded fifth and faces Spain's Conchita Martinez in the opening round.

"It was a good week and I got to play a lot of matches before a Grand Slam which is positive," Shaughnessy said. "I would definitely liked to have things go a little better today but it was the first time I played Martina and the wind was gusting a little down there. I think most champions like her step it up in the finals."

One day after bouncing American Andy Roddick, Federer had no trouble with Chela. He is seeded 13th in the Open and will play American Michael Chang in the first round.

Chela is unseeded and meets a qualifier in his opening match in Melbourne.
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