Switzerland's Martina Hingis has ended the women's tennis season as world number one for the second year running. And after winning the Chase Championships in New York the 20-year-old insisted that her achievements this year demanded respect.
Plenty of attention has been focussed on the Swiss player's failure to win a Grand Slam event this season, the first time Hingis has gone without one of the four major titles since 1996.
But after beating Monica Seles in three sets to win the season-ending Chase Championships Hingis insisted that she deserved her place at the top of the world rankings.
"1997 will always be referred to because that was the year when I won three Grand Slams, but 2000 has been a big year. I have captured nine titles and I feel that I have made enormous progress in all areas."
Over the course of the year Hingis won 77 matches with just 10 defeats, an impressive tally which took her annual prize money income to over three million dollars. Just as importantly her victories this season seem to have given her renewed confidence in her ability to beat her biggest rivals.
"Previously I had the feeling that I wasn't equally armed going into my matches against the Williams sisters or (Lindsay) Davenport. Today I feel capable of resisting them. I realised after losing to Venus Williams at Wimbledon that I had to change something in my tennis."
A highly confident Hingis could present a daunting prospect to those old rivals in the New Year. Certainly the St Gallen player has no fears about next year's Grand Slams.
"There is no mystery about winning another major tournament," Hingis insisted. "I just have to conserve my energy up until the semi-finals. It's being fresh that makes the difference."
Hingis will not be relaxing for too long over the coming weeks, however. After two doubles exhibitions with Anna Kournikova this weekend, the Swiss player will take two weeks off before resuming training in Florida in the first week of December.
She will then fly to Australia before the end of the year, representing Switzerland in the Hopman Cup with Roger Federer, before starting her preparations for the Sydney Open and the Australian Open.
Fans of Swiss tennis will be glad to hear that Hingis could also be a part of the country's Fed Cup plans next season, after an absence of two years.
"I haven't finalised my exact programme for 2001 yet, but the Fed Cup could have a place. I would definitely love to play in it again."
swissinfo with agencies