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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 19:47 GMT
Hantuchova heads for top
Hantuchova in action at Indian Wells
The Indian Wells Masters was Hantuchova's first title
Daniela Hantuchova announced her arrival as a serious contender in women's tennis by taking her first tour title at Indian Wells.

BBC Sport Online's David Walmsley profiles the circuit's latest glamour girl.

Daniela Hantuchova has taken two major steps towards tennis stardom in as many months.

At January's Australian Open, she upstaged resident pin-up girl Anna Kournikova by contesting the women's doubles final in a little black cocktail dress.

And now - more significantly - she has shown she has the game to match the glamour by beating Martina Hingis to take her first WTA Tour title.

The Slovak teenager's confident 6-3 6-4 victory in Indian Wells confirmed the promise she has shown since joining the tour full-time last year.


I have a big serve, plus a good forehand and backhand
Daniela Hantuchova
Hantuchova already has two Grand Slam titles to her name at just 18 - not to mention a host of websites dedicated to her backhands and hemlines in equal measure.

She won the mixed doubles at both Wimbledon last year and at the Australian Open in January.

And she also reached the women's doubles final in Melbourne, partnering Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario against Hingis and Kournikova.

Now mastering Hingis in a straight fight has raised her ranking from 26 to 17 and taken her reputation to a new level in the singles game.

But Hantuchova has higher ambitions still.

Hantuchova's dress grabbed all the attention in the Australian Open doubles final
Hantuchova challenged Kournikova in the style stakes in Melbourne
Her British coach, Nigel Sears, said: "Her goal is to end the year in the top 16.

"Some people think we are crazy but we have already made a great start to the year."

The daughter of a university professor and a toxicologist from Bratislava, Hantuchova began her tennis education aged six.

Coached initially by her grandmother, a former national champion, she quickly became one of the stars of the international junior circuit.

A contemporary of Kim Clijsters, Jelena Dokic and Elena Dementieva, she has taken longer to mature than those rivals.

But she is now gaining on them in leaps and bounds.

  Daniela Hantuchova
Date of birth: 23 April 1983
Birthplace: Poprad, Slovakia
Height: 1.81m
Weight: 56kg
World ranking: 26
Titles: Indian Wells Masters 2002, Australian Open (mixed doubles) 2002, Wimbledon (mixed doubles) 2001, Luxembourg (doubles) 2001, Bratislava (doubles) 2000
Standing almost six feet tall, the feisty, long-legged Hantuchova packs surprising power into her thin frame.

Her serve is rated as one of the best in the game, as much for its movement and variation as its raw speed.

"I have a big serve, plus a good forehand and backhand," she said. "I think I have a good all-round game."

Kournikova may have won the Australian doubles title at Hantuchova's expense.

But her looks continue to earn her more fame and fortune than her performances on court, costing her credibility as a serious contender.

Hantuchova's progress to date suggests that she can avoid a similar fate.

See also:

17 Mar 02 |  Photo Galleries
Hantuchova title joy
14 Mar 02 |  Tennis
Hantuchova reaches first final
12 Mar 02 |  Tennis
Hantuchova moves into semis
27 Jan 02 |  Australian Open
Mixed success for scratch pair
18 Jan 02 |  Australian Open
Williams taken all the way
09 Jul 01 |  Wimbledon 2001
Joy for Friedl and Hantuchova
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