Switzerland's biggest women's tennis tournament has got underway - but without the country's biggest player. Top seed Martina Hingis has confirmed her withdrawal from the Swisscom Challenge in the Zurich suburb of Kloten, after damaging her ankle ligaments on Saturday.
The Swiss star's injury forced her to pull out of Saturday's semi-final match against Lindsay Davenport at the WTA tournament in Filderstadt.
On Sunday, Hingis underwent an operation in Zurich to ease the pain, but her surgeon, Heinz Bühlmann, said she would be out of action for around two months.
"Her season is certainly over," Bühlmann said.
"I think she will be able to start running again in six to eight weeks and we have time to build her up nicely until November or December," he added.
Kloten tournament director, Beat Ritschard, said his first concern was not that the tournament was losing its number one player.
"First and foremost I sympathise with Martina Hingis," he said.
"I wish this super player all the best for a quick recovery and hope that she will soon be back, as strong as ever."
America's Serena Williams has also withdrawn at short notice from the Kloten event, saying that she didn't want to leave the United States following the start of US military strikes on Afghanistan.
"I am sorry to be missing the trip to Zurich," Williams said in a statement issued on Saturday. "It's a great tournament in a great city. However, I still feel a strong need to stay close to home my family in the wake of the events of the past month."
Capriati number one
Ironically, the Kloten event will still play host to the world's number one tennis player despite the absence of Hingis. The Swiss player's injury and subsequent inability to reach the final in Filderstadt ensured that America's Jennifer Capriati would be taking over from Hingis at the top of the world rankings.
Capriati now heads the Kloten line-up above Davenport (WTA 3) and world number ten Jelena Dokic. Although just three of the top ten will be taking part in the Swiss tournament, the overall field remains strong with every player ranked between 11th and 20th due to compete.
The opening weekend's qualifying tournament helped provide some Swiss cheer with Lausanne teenager Marie-Gaïané Mikaelian (WTA 110) winning her three matches to book a place in the first round proper.
Mikaelian's success means that two Swiss players will now be represented in the main draw, with Basel's Patty Schnyder benefiting from a wild card entry.
Sunday's action also saw the first seeded players make it through to the second round without giving the tournament's organisers any more upset. French fifth seed Nathalie Tauziat beat Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva in three sets, while Italian eighth seed Silvia Farina swiftly disposed of Germany's Anke Huber 6-2, 6-4.
swissinfo with agencies
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