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Hingis fails in Montreal but returns to top ten

Hingis lacked the power to trouble her Serbian opponent in Montreal

(Keystone)

Switzerland's Martina Hingis has rejoined the top ten of women's tennis for the first time since 2002, in one of the sport's biggest comebacks this year.

Despite losing the final of the WTA tournament in Montreal on Monday she moved up three places in the ranking to become world number nine.

It took the former number one only 15 tournaments to soar from 349th position at the beginning of this year to rejoin the tennis elite, just behind her Swiss compatriot Patty Schnyder whose ranking remained unchanged.

Amélie Mauresmo of France stayed top ahead of Belgium's Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, according to the latest WTA ranking published on Tuesday.

René Stauffer, a sports journalist for the Zurich-based Tages Anzeiger newspaper, told swissinfo that Hingis' return to a top ten ranking was not so surprising, even if it only took 15 tournaments.

"She's in beautiful shape; she's fitter than before, but she was always a strong player despite her small size," he said. "What we don't have is actual proof that she is a better player than before she retired."

The Swiss ace had to withdraw from professional tennis because of foot and ankle injuries in 2003 having won 40 tournaments, including five Grand Slam titles, since 1997.

"If she wants to be number one again, she can," said Stauffer. "But [...] what counts for her now are those Slam titles, because they have more value in her opinion than a number one ranking."

Comeback

Hingis made her comeback to the tennis circuit for a tournament in Brisbane on January 1, 2006 where she only went out in the semi-finals.

She went on to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian and French Opens on her steady way back to the top ten.

In May she won her first WTA event since her comeback, beating Dinara Safin in the final in Rome.

However, Hingis on Monday lost her final in Montreal against Serbia's Ana Ivanovic in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, in the Swiss star's third appearance in a final since her return to the tour.

The 13th seed set the tone by breaking Hingis's serve in the first game and never looked back. She broke the Swiss again in the fifth game before wrapping up the set.

In the second set, Ivanovic recorded a key break in the seventh game before closing out the match in just 58 minutes to win her first major tournament.

Hingis failed to earn herself a single chance to break back during the match, and seemed to lack the power needed to challenge her Serbian opponent.

"Everything went very quickly," admitted the Swiss player afterwards. "I can only compliment Ana. She played extraordinarily well."

In 1997 Hingis became the youngest world number one and managed to stay in the top spot for a total of 209 weeks. Only Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert have a better record than the 25-year-old Swiss star.

swissinfo

In brief

Hingis (born in 1980) joined the Pro Tour in 1994 and temporarily withdrew at the end of 2003 because of injury. At the beginning of this year she made a comeback.

Hingis currently ranks number 9 behind her compatriot Patty Schnyder – the first time two Swiss women are among the top ten.

Switzerland's Roger Federer leads the ATP rankings, while the country's number two, Stanislaw Wawrinka, is ranked 47.

end of infobox

Key facts

Hingis tennis career 1994-2006:
5 Grand Slam singles titles
9 Grand Slam doubles titles
41 WTA single's tournament victories
World Number One for 209 weeks
Youngest top ranked player (1997)

end of infobox


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