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Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 19:06 GMT 20:06 UK
Hingis still looking for the big one
Martina Hingis at the 2000 French Open
Martina Hingis is ready to see her name on a few cups
When Martina Hingis lost to Steffi Graf in the French Open final two years ago, it seemed like a minor setback.

The Swiss 18-year-old looked destined to dominate the game just as her opponent had done for the previous decade.

Hingis had already won five Grand Slam championships.

She had been the youngest-ever world number one and also the youngest woman to win a major when she lifted the 1997 Australian Open at the age of 16.

Even Graf consoled her afterwards. "You'll have so many more chances to win, so don't worry about it."

But it hasn't quite turned out like that.

Hingis has not won a Grand Slam championship since, and although still world number one, she has always come off second best to one or other of the big power players in the major championships.

Jennifer Capriati (l) takes the Australian Open trophy
Foiled again: Capriati (l) shatters Hingis's Australian dream

Venus Williams, particularly, has been a thorn in the side of the Swiss, now aged 20.

The American has beaten Hingis twice in the semi-finals of the US Open and in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon last year.

When Williams is not around, Lindsay Davenport and Mary Pierce have been there to out-hit her, as they did in the Australian and French Opens respectively last year.

There's no question that in terms of pure talent, Hingis is way ahead of the rest.

It's just a question of power and the fact that the physically stronger players can attack her relatively weak serve.

At this year's Australian Open she finally beat both Serena and Venus Williams in the same tournament for the first time.

She must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when she realised she had only 12th seed Jennifer Capriati to beat to end her Grand Slam drought.


Roland Garros can be quite a torture
Martina Hingis
But in the final the American showed she could hit just as hard as the Williams sisters, Davenport and Pierce and won 6-4 6-3.

Over the past couple of years Hingis has increased her strength by training with weights and is now no longer coached by her mother Melanie Molitor.

Perhaps it all goes back to that match against Graf. For the first time on court, Hingis lost her cool, even running off court in floods of tears at the end.

It hardly made her a favourite with the crowds in Paris and last year her matches had quite an edge to them.

"To win the trophy in Paris is one of my biggest aims for the year," Hingis says. "Every player has the dream of winning all the big tournaments at least once."

"The earlier, the better. The French is a strain for the body and soul. You can only win it if you are perfectly conditioned.

"You have to be prepared to go to the limit, several times if need be. Roland Garros can be quite a torture."

For Hingis, torture is exactly the right word.

Links to more Tennis stories are at the foot of the page.


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