Tennis Prose



Hingis Buzz is back

Martina Hingis has caught the tennis Buzz again.

Hingis will play a full season of World TeamTennis for the New York Buzz next month and is considering a return to the WTA Tour as a doubles specialist. Hingis may follow up her WTT return with a world-class doubles partnership pairing her with fellow former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport.

While the 29-year-old Hingis say she’s ruling out a return as a singles player, she is in discussions with Davenport about potentially partnering in doubles, in what would be a pairing of Grand Slam champions.

“I’ve had some talks — not for the singles — I’m not considering a comeback (in singles), I have no further plans, but we’ve talked about doubles, yeah,” Hingis told the media in a conference call today to promote her upcoming appearance for the New York Buzz. “Yeah, with Lindsay in January I had some conversation.  I’ll see her at Wimbledon, see where we take it from there.”

“We played together once and we won, so we’re undefeated,” Hingis added with a laugh.

The five-time Grand Slam singles champion will play exhibition events in Liverpool and Manchester this week in preparation for the Wimbledon Ladies Legends doubles exhibition next week in which she will play with former partner Anna Kournikova, reforming their “Spice Girls” partnership. Hingis said she plans to discuss the prospect of playing WTA events with Davenport during Wimbledon next week.

“I’ll see it a Wimbledon, where we take it from there,” said Hingis. “We’re gonna play the Legends. We’ve been talking and we’ll see how we do and how it goes.”

It is a pairing that would make sense given the fact Hingis and Davenport are two of only six women in Open Era history to hold the World No. 1 rank in singles and doubles simultaneously. Davenport, who still owns one of the most potent serves in women’s tennis, provides the power and strong serve Hingis lacks, while Hingis’ court sense, flair for finesse and ability to create angles that look like they come straight off the pages of a Dr. Seuss drawing of geometry was unmatched in her prime.


Hingis won nine Grand Slam doubles titles as well as the 2006 Australian Open Mixed Doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi. In 1998, she became the fourth woman in tennis history to sweep all four Grand Slam doubles championships in a calendar year.

Art lovers will never see Picasso and Dali collaborate on a comic book, but tennis fans saw two of tennis’ most creative artists paint shared strokes through their own blue period when Hinigs and John McEnroe shared the blue tennis court as teammates on the 2005 New York Sportimes.

McEnroe said then Hingis’ all-court game was so sound she reminded him a bit of a Hall of Fame player: himself.

“We both tried to take the ball early, we both tried to use the entire court and I think we both tried to use our feel and finesse against the big power players we faced,” McEnroe said. “Martina didn’t have as much power as some of her top rivals, but she could hit every shot and play from anywhere on the court.”

Davenport, who serves as a television analyst for Tennis Channel, announced she will play doubles with Liezel Huber in San Diego next month. Hingis said she’s heard Daveneport is also planning to play mixed doubles in majors.

Three months shy of her 30th birthday and nearly three years removed from her last WTA Tour singles match, Hingis said she is returning to WTT competition because she has a passion to play.

“I love the game. I have great memories when I played WTT in 2005 and 2006 and we ended up winning for the Sportimes,” said Hingis, who surrendered only one set all season and earned WTT Most Valuable Player in leading the New York Sportimes to the 2005 WTT title. “It was great fun and I love the team spirit and I love to have the challenge.”

Hall of Famer and WTT founder Billie Jean King told the AP last week Hingis is “testing the waters” for a return to the WTA Tour after serving a two-year ban from the pro circuit following a positive test for cocaine at the 2007 Wimbledon.

Hingis said today playing World TeamTennis next month will give her a good barometer of how her current level of play matches up to the world’s best players.

“I’m already playing some exhibitions in England and playing World Team Tennis it always gives you an idea where you stand,” said Hingis, who has already faced Michaella Krajicek in exhibition play.

Hingis is scheduled to face several familiar faces — World No. 1 Serena Williams, World No. 2 Venus Williams and US Open champion Kim Clijsters — in WTT play and said she’s particularly excited about renewing her rivalry vs. the Williams sisters.

“I think we always brought out the best tennis in each other and kept us pushing,” Hingis said. “And I have great memories (of facing them). They brought the power game and I tried to deal with it with finesse. I think it was a great contrast every time we played each other.”

Serena owns a 7-6 record against Hingis, while the Swiss strategist is 11-10 lifetiime vs. Venus, but facing the world’s top two ranked women will represent a significant step up from her recent exhibitions.

“Of course for me, since I haven’t been playing in the last three years, it will be quite interesting to be playing the No. 1 player in the world,” Hingis said. “We’ve played a lot of matches in the past, but I’m sure it’s going to be different this time. But, you know, I love the competition, I love the challenge.  We’ll see.  I’ll definitely have to come out with really good tennis if I want to do something.”

Hingis is certainly young enough to launch a comeback and may be inspired by the successful returns of former World No. 1 players Clijsters and Justine Henin in recent months.

It would not be the first time Hingis used World TeamTennis as a test run for a return. She earned WTT Player Of The Year Honors in 2005 in leading the New York Sportimes to the WTT championship before returning to the WTA Tour in 2006. During the 2005 WTT season Hingis flatly ruled out a return to WTA Tour play, only to change her mind and launch a full-fledged comeback. She said today, she is older now and has no plans to play singles, but she said the same thing five years ago and did come back.


“I knew this question was gonna come up,” Hingis said with a laugh when asked about a full-fledged singles return to the WTA Tour. “At this point I’m not considering a comeback.  But, like I said, I love to play tennis. That was definitely a different time.  It was five years ago when I decided to come back. I’m going to turn 30. Like I said, it’s a great experience to have.  You know, just very much looking forward to it.  Definitely see, you know, if I last the season.  That’s the bottom line.  Since I only played half a season last time, I said, Okay, 14 matches in three weeks, that’s going to be a lot of tennis, so (I am) definitely working on it now, ready to be in good enough shape to survive it.”

In WTT play, Hingis showed signs of the guile, touch and court sense that made her the top player in the world. Those elements can make her a successful doubles player. Hingis’ shallow serve — by far the biggest weakness in her game — was exposed at times during near two-year return to the WTA Tour, but her serve is not nearly as big a liability in doubles where more often than not she can gauge where the return is coming. Additionally, if Hingis did partner with Davenport it would enable her to use her superb net skills in doubles.

It could be the latest chapter in a career that has seen Hingis capture five Grand Slam singles titles and eight major doubles titles. Hingis won 43 singles and 37 doubles championships in a career that began 16 years ago.

World TeamTennis is celebrating its 35th season by unveiling a top player in WTT history each week in the 35 weeks leading up to the season. The three top spots remain with WTT founder Billie Jean King, Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova and Hingis each in line for the top three spots. To see the players who have made an impact on WTT and have been announced so far, please visit

Photo Credit: Camera Work USA

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  • Scoop Malinowski · June 16, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Hingis’s return is a big positive for pro tennis, she still has many years left in her, and her personality and colorfulness make the WTA a better show. Already looking forward to LD and Martina vs. the Williams. Now all we need is Kournikova back as a doubles specialist.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Nice piece, Rich. I’m not so interested in a Hingis comeback. Her game never drove me to fancy. And by coming back a second time it’s almost like the boy who cried wolf. Women’s doubles can be fun once in a while, but it’s significance in the game is slightly higher than Mixed Doubles. Quick who won the last Mixed Double Slam? Who the heck knows or cares?

  • Richard Pagliaro · June 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    So let me get this straight: you’re doing cart-wheels wearing a toga in the hot yoga room over Vince playing a challenger, but Martina Hingis, one of only 6 women in history to hold the top spot in singles and doubles simultaneously, who has some of the best hands in the women’s game may come back and then doesn’t interest you?
    Geesh, you really have an interesting outlook on things.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I’ll go one up on you, Rich, Vince isn’t playing a Challenger, he’s playing a Futures. But he will be in Newport quali draw where he reached the finals in 2005 against Rusedski, serving for match in third set, and lost.

    But you got the rest of it right right down to me wearing toga in hot yoga room.

  • Richard Pagliaro · June 16, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I hear that toga has John Starks’ jersey number on the back (was it No. 3) and the “Break Point” cover on the front – true?
    Was on a conference call with Brad Gilbert yesterday and asked him if he could pick one of the following three players to coach – Marin Cilic, John Isner or Sam Querrey – who would Brad pick and who has the biggest upside of that tall trio.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    So who did he pick? And, no that’s not true about my togo.

  • vinko · June 17, 2010 at 11:55 am

    If Martina wants to comeback why do it at the hit and giggle circuit, team tennis. With its constant 1970s music blaring and a screeching PA man, team tennis is not a serious venue. She would be better off proving herself in a challenger.

  • Richard Pagliaro · June 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    A few things:

    1. IF she went to a challenger she would not be facing Serena Williams, Venus Williams or Kim Clijsters as she is scheduled to do in WTT.

    2. The last time she launched a comeback to the WTA she prepared by playing WTT – and it worked well. She came back and cracked the WTA Top 10 and won a Tier I title.

    3. She said she is considering coming back for doubles only. How is playing a Challenger going to either “prove yourself” or help you prepare for a possible doubles comeback? Do you really think playing a Challenger is better preparation than facing the Williams sisters, Clijsters, etc. even if it is just a set? For everyone who says WTT is just a hit and giggle ask Scoop about the WTT match he and I went to in NY last year where McEnroe almost got into it in doubles where the two teams were drilling each other at net.

    4. The quality of competition she is set to face in WTT is much tougher than what she could get at a Challenger.

    5. Hingis is almost 30. She’s been #1 in singles and doubles, won 5 singles majors and 9 doubles majors. At this point it’s not about “proving yourself” – I think with that resume you’ve pretty much proved all you can it’s about trying to get ready to possibly play doubles at the Tour level. In WTT she’ll be playing the top players in the world and playing doubles and mixed.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    WTT is pretty competitive. Remember McEnroe being pretty annoyed with Kendrick’s missed volleys. Remember McEnroe practing hard in the afternoon to get ready for the night matches. Remember Paes and Kendrick had that grudge match in DC I believe where Paes tried to hit him with a body shot. It’s more serious than you expect, a lot more. Pete Sampras and Kim Clijsters also launched their comebacks by playing WTT. Smart move by Hingis, she knows what she’s doing.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm


    I don’t want to belabor the point of you being wrong all the time, but as Ronald Reagan said,”Here you go again.”
    And I’m no Reagan fan, let me point out.

    The main reason why Hingis is playing WTT and not a Challenger is that she’s getting paid much more than winning a Challenger to do so. When she plays Serena Williams, just how hard do you think Williams will play. Didn’t Williams once lose to Madison Keys, who we’ve never heard of again?
    If Hingis really wants to make a single comeback, because again, who cares about women’s doubles?, she should play a lower WTA tournament and not the farcical WTT.
    The WTT is for Johnny Mac to get fired up or Dusan Vemic and Alex Bogomolov, Challenger players, not Martina Hingis or anyone involved in playing serious tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Red, WTT is very serious. And if you can tune out the blasting music and silly PA announcers (not so easy to do), it’s a fantastic show. And women’s doubles is getting interesting with the fallout of the Huber-Black team, Huber breaking it off, then Black and her new partner defeating Huber and her new last week. It’s kind of interesting when the #1 team in the world splits. One of the most dramatic matches I’ve seen in the last five years was the 2008 Australian WD final won by the Bondarenko sisters. That historic win to become the first Ukrainians to win a grand slam event was much more entertaining and exciting than the most recent Roland Garros final. Red you should try watching some more womens’ doubles, it’s not that bad.

    It would be interesting to know if Hingis would lower herself to the grind of the challenger level to make her comeback (like Agassi, Spadea) if the WTT was defunct.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 17, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Hingis would never lower herself, Scoop. But she’d find it interesting if she did and probably make her a better player if she could survive it. Talking to Vince who won his first match in the Futures event in Davis, CA., he says being out there makes him appreciate how hard it is to make it on the pro tour. So many players scrapping to get even into the top-1,000. Vince said he saw Paul Goldstein coaching a 17-year-old player and Brad Stine, Courier’s old coach, coaching a prodigy. It’s obviously not only hard to make it to the top level as a player, it’s hard even if you’ve had success as a player or coach, to make it back to the top level as a coach.

  • dobey · June 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    If Martina Hingis wants to come back for dubs or team tennis, why not? She is still young, still great looking and still a crowd favorite. So why not? I always wondered why Martina got treated so harshly. Yes, she broke the rules but not with steroids or HGH or something that gave her a competitive advantage. I suspect that in a down moment she did something impulsive and stupid. And I suspect that she knew right away that she did something stupid. But she paid a very heavy price for it. If I remember right, Petr Korda got much easier treatment than Martina.

  • vinko · June 18, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Most of the team tennis players are challenger level so Martina will still be playing challenger players whether at team tennis or in a challenger. The difference is that a challenger event is serious tennis. Team tennis is more like a Harlem Globetrotters game. The globies are talented players but the game is strictly entertainment. Team tennis does bring in a big name or two but from what I’ve seen the big names just yuk it up and play for laughs.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Paes and Kendrick were not yukking it up in their WTT match last year. WTT is a lot more competitive and serious than you might realize. There may be smiles and laughs and clowning around between games but once the matches are in play, it’s 100% serious. John McEnroe has never clowned around on a court during play, or even practice matches — as evidence read the passage on Spadea vs. McEnroe in practice 21s in “Break Point” by some writer named Dan Markowitz.
    Perfect vehicle for Hingis to ease her way back to the WTA Tour.

  • Dobey · June 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Just curious if McEnroe and Roddick ever played in a WTT match. It’s too bad that they were never in their primes at the same time. It would have been fascinating to see if McEnroe’s craftiness could dent the awesome power that Roddick brings to a match. I do know that in Pete Sampras’s book, Pete says that he felt from the first time he played McEnroe, He (Pete) could overpower McEnroe, despite his respect for McEnroe’s artistry and craftiness. I watched some of that match on youtube and Pete is pretty much correct about it. But McEnroe was in 1990 far past his prime. It was not the 1984 version of John McEnroe. But does anybody know if McEnroe and Roddick ever played a WTT match? I think that Roddick has on occasion played WTT matches.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I saw Johnny Mac play Roddick out in South Hampton around 2000, and JMac gave him all that he could handle. I was amazed that JMac could return Andy’s serve. And it didn’t look like Andy was pulling back on it.

    I’m not sure, I’ll check, but I think JMac and Roddick are supposed to square off on Randall’s Island this summer for a WTT match. To me, it’s not even close, who was the better tennis player in their primes. JMac had a complete game, moved better, had the magic that Roddick does not.

  • vinko · June 19, 2010 at 12:58 am

    ALthough Mac had more slam wins than Roddick’s mere one, he didn’t have to compete against a field as deep as the one Andy has to. Borg retired when John was 22 and Jimmy Connors was pushing 30 leaving some wide open fields for Mac. Let’s not forget one of his Wimbledon titles came against low ranked Chris Lewis and another came against Connors when Jimmy was well past 30. Andy always has to contend with Rafa, Fed, Djoko, Murray etc. If Andy played in the early 80s he would surely have lots of titles.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

    There’s no question to what you say, Vinko, but Mac did break the dominance of Borg, not an easy deal as Borg was the king, and surely would’ve won some US Open’s if not for Mac. But Mac did get off easy, his first Open title was against Gerulaitis, who if you ever saw his game, was not a champion-level player in my book. Exciting, daring, talented, but not champion-level. But Mac had Lendl to contend with and Noah and he brought to the game a style that has never been matched. He was an artist, along the lines of Federer. Roddick is more of a one-trick pony. You would never associate, at least I wouldn’t, any of his game with brilliance except for his serve.

  • vinko · June 19, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I think Mac would have alot of trouble handling Andy’s serve. In Mac’s day some players still used a wooden racket and you generally didn’t have to face a monster serve every point. When Mac did meet up with a big server he had his hands full. He lost to Boris Becker, understandable, but also to Keven Curren who served him off the Wimbledon court. Once the wooden racket was gone from tennis Mac never won another title. Tatum O’Neil got the blame for that but I think it was graphite that did it.

  • Richard Pagliaro · June 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Hingis has served her drug suspension so if she wanted to play singles right now she could get a wild card into basically any tournament in the world. I have no problem with Challengers or the level of play – obviously it is very competitive – but before her last comeback she played the WTT to gauge her level and it worked out well.
    The other point is you play a Challenger and you’re (in most cases) playing one match a day in one spot. In WTT she can get a lot more matches – singles, doubles and mixed – against world-class competition (Venus, Serena, Clijsters, etc.) that she would never see in Challengers. So if you love Challengers – great – I have no problem with Challengers. I’m saying in this case it makes a lot more sense to play WTT because: 1. It worked for her in the past. 2. The quality of competition is much higher than what she would see in a Challenger. 3. She can get a lot more matches in a shorter period of time. 4. And sure you are absolutely right about the money – it’s a better pay day as well but what’s wrong with making money?



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