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Tennis stars in need of Key success

Can Hingis get back on track in Florida?

(Keystone)

Switzerland's top tennis players will be looking to put recent disappointments behind them when the prestigious Masters Series tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida gets underway on Wednesday.

Despite making a strong start to the season, Martina Hingis and Roger Federer have both appeared out of sorts at the more major tournaments. Marc Rosset and Patty Schnyder, on the other hand, have been playing consistently poor tennis since the start of the year.

Hingis held onto her world number one spot in the world rankings on Monday despite suffering a surprise defeat at the hands of Belgian teenager Kim Clijsters in the semi-finals of last week's Indian Wells tournament. Although Hingis can look back with some pride on her successes in Doha and Dubai, neither of those tournaments attracted a particularly strong field of opponents.

At Indian Wells, the Swiss number one was quick to point out that she could not perform at her best all the time. Nevertheless, her disappointment in California combined with a two-year barren spell at Grand Slam events has raised questions about Hingis's ability to raise her game for the most important tournaments.

And with a five million dollar total prize fund and a singles draw of 96 players in both the men's and women's competition, the Key Biscayne tournament definitely ranks among the biggest.

Roger Federer has also made success at the tour's biggest events his main aim, as he continues his bid for a place in the sport's top ten. On Monday the Basel teenager slipped back to 24th in the world rankings, following his first round defeat to Germany's Nicolas Kiefer at Indian Wells.

Coming so soon after his first singles title in Milan and his pivotal performances in Switzerland's Davis Cup victory over the United States, Federer's dip in form may prove nothing more than a temporary blip. By contrast, his compatriots Marc Rosset and Patty Schnyder appear to be suffering from more long-term problems.

Schnyder's recent reappointment of former coach Eric van Harpen has yet to produce a turnaround in form. At Indian Wells, the Swiss women's number two lost in her opening match for the fourth time in a row.

Rosset suffered his second first round exit in succession last week, and has not made it past the second round of any tournament this year. His slump has also forced the Genevan to make adjustments to his coaching set-up, bringing in former trainer Stéphane Oberer to work on his game alongside existing coach Alberto Castellani.

Since Oberer is also employed as the national tennis association's technical director, his reunion with Rosset has again prompted speculation that the Swiss number two could be persuaded to rejoin the country's Davis Cup team. Swiss captain Jakob Hlasek plans to hold more talks with Rosset in Florida.

But even if Rosset agrees to make himself available, he may yet have to prove on court that a place in the team is deserved.

swissinfo with agencies


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