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Hingis wins first title in four years

The long wait made victory sweeter for Hingis

(Keystone)

Switzerland's Martina Hingis has completed her comeback from retirement by winning her first title since 2002, beating Dinara Safina of Russia in the Italian Open.

The former world number one defeated the 16th seeded Safina in two sets, 6-2, 7-5. It was Hingis's first win in a final since Tokyo in 2002.

"It's great to be on top of the game," the 25-year-old Swiss said after Sunday's match. She won her first two games easily before coming back from 0-40 down to break a second time and lead 3-0.

Hingis approached the net without hesitation and was five games up before Safina won her first game.

Going into the second set, Hingis retained her form and began attacking Safina's serve. The Russian looked slow around the court compared with the nimble Swiss star.

Safina pulled back to 4-3, and Hingis lost two match points at 5-3, setting up a close finish.

At 6-5 she was given a second chance to serve out the championship. She saved four break points, failed to convert her third match point and then took the fourth with two cross court backhands, both of which landed on the lines.

Unseeded

Although she went into the Italian Open unseeded, Hingis has had 31 wins since her return to the circuit at the beginning of the year – a record second only to Nadia Petrova's 33.

Her Rome victory was her 41st singles career title, and gives her enough points on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tour to put her in the top 15.

The Swiss star caused an upset by beating Venus Williams on Saturday 0-6 6-3 6-3 to reach her second final since ending a three-year retirement. She lost to Elena Dementieva in Tokyo in February.

Sunday's win was her first victory over one of the two Williams sisters since the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2001.

Sweet 16

Hingis was only 16 when she took over the top ranking in March 1997 on the WTA tour. She spent most of the next five years as number one.

The Swiss won five grand slams and 36 doubles titles before withdrawing from competitive tennis after battling with foot injuries.

She made her comeback in January, reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals in Melbourne in the women's single event and winning the mixed double title.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Martina Hingis won 40 singles and 36 doubles titles before taking early retirement.
Her singles victories included five Grand Slams (Australian Open 1997, 1998, 1999, US Open 1997, and Wimbledon 1997 and two Masters 1998 and 2000).
She was the youngest player to win a Grand Slam title (16 years, 3 months and 26 days) and the youngest to become the world number one (16 years, 6 months and 1 day).

end of infobox


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