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Hingis bows out of first comeback tournament

Hingis (right) gets a kiss from Pennetta after Friday's match Keystone

Former world number one Martina Hingis has ended an impressive run at the first tennis tournament since she announced her comeback with a semi-final defeat.

This content was published on January 6, 2006 - 10:35

The 25-year-old Swiss was finally stopped in her tracks by Flavia Pennetta at the Australian hardcourt championships in Melbourne.

The fourth-seeded Italian beat Hingis 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 at Royal Pines, ending her opponent's three-match winning streak.

Hingis said she had strained a hip-flexor muscle towards the end of the second set.

"As a player and a competitor you try to overcome things like that and still play until the end of the match," she said.

"If I was to evaluate this tournament right away, I'm very happy and very positive about what I've achieved this week. I don't think anybody expected me to come out like this, so it's pretty good."

Return to form

This week's tournament, which comes ahead of the Australian Open later in the month, marks Hingis's return to the professional circuit after three years away due to foot, ankle and heal injuries.

Hingis has received plaudits from tennis commentators for showing glimpses of the skills which took her to five grand slam titles before she retired from the game in 2002.

She survived longer at the tournament than her Swiss compatriot, Patty Schnyder.

Schnyder is the titleholder at Royal Pines but crashed out of the quarter-finals on Thursday after losing to Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in straight sets, 4-6, 3-6.

Future plans

Following Friday's match, Hingis announced she would pull out of her scheduled semi-final doubles tie with partner Tatiana Golovin of Russia.

She still plans to play in next week's Sydney International on a wild card and the Australian Open at Melbourne beginning on January 16, a tournament she has won three times.

Prior to her semi-final defeat, Hingis revealed how she was coping with the pressure of competing under the media spotlight.

"I can only play match by match and get out there and compete," she said, in reference to comments from world number one Lindsay Davenport and number two Kim Clijsters that she may find it hard to come back.

"You always have those doubts, but I can only show them the results. Either you belong to the top or you don't."

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Hingis has won 40 singles titles, five Grand Slams and 36 doubles titles on the Women's Tennis Association tour, amassing more than $18 million in prize money.
She was only 16 when she took over the top ranking in March 1997 and spent most of the next five years in the top spot.
She withdrew from competitive tennis in October 2002 after battling with foot injuries.

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