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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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BBC -- Martina Hingis has described her horror at arriving in Sydney to see the city surrounded by a cloud of smoke from the worst bush fires in living memory.

The Swiss star is preparing to defend her Sydney International title and has launched a fundraising campaign on behalf of the tournament to help the victims of the fires.

"This is not the Sydney I love," she told BBC Sport Online.


"Look at all the smoke around from the bush fires. I feel very sad for all the people affected, especially the kids."

Tournament organisers have joined forces with the Australian Salvation Army to raise money for food, clothing and financial assistance for the victims by giving away a percentage of ticket sales.

Hingis joined Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti to give a tennis school for bushfire victims on the opening day of the tournament.

"If I could do anything to help I would, so I hope I can help cheer up some of the kids who have been affected," she said.

The former world number one gets down to business on Tuesday as she starts the defence of her crown against either Magui Serna or Lisa Raymond.

"I've been training pretty hard back in Switzerland, so I am feeling very strong and refreshed."

Having not played competitively since injuring her wrist in October, the tournament will give an indication of Hingis' fitness and desire after a year that saw her slip to number four in the rankings.

"Being the defending champion, you always feel pressure," she said.

"Instead of being the hunted though, I am now the hunter and that feels good.

"2001 was definitely a tough year for me. I've been training pretty hard though, back in Switzerland, so I am feeling very strong and refreshed."

Hingis also renews her high-profile doubles partnership with Anna Kournikova this week.

The pair have committed to playing together once again in Sydney and the Australian Open following their bust-up at an exhibition in Chile in December 2000.
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