Hingis insists comeback limited to doubles only

After a near six-year absence, former world No. 1 Martina Hingis
is back on the WTA Tour.

But Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam singles champion, insists her
return will only be in doubles and not singles.

The 32-year-old Hingis began her second comeback to the tour
Wednesday, teaming with Daniela Hantuchova for a 6-1, 6-1 victory
over Julia Goerges and Darija Jurak in the Southern California
Open.

Hingis has retired twice previously, the first time in early
2003 at 22 and the last time in November 2007.

”I always had it in the back of my head in the last six
years,” said Hingis, who has been coaching for the last two years.
”Now, being so much closer to it, being closer to the game, closer
to the matches, I was like let’s try it again and see if I can have
a great time.”

Her last WTA match was a second-round loss to China’s Peng Shuai
at an event in Beijing in September 2007.

But recent comments made by current tennis commentator Lindsay
Davenport, the three-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1
ranked player, that Hingis was using the doubles comeback to launch
a full-fledge return to singles later this fall, has fueled rampant
speculation.

All of which the ”Swiss Miss” swatted away like a weak second
serve.

”It’s a different world,” said Hingis, a recent inductee into
the International Tennis Hall of Fame. ”Even Team Tennis now, it’s
brutal. It’s only one set, but still like the next day I wake up
and you have to put so much more effort into it. Playing
tournaments, that’s the easy part. It’s all the grind behind it,
behind the scenes that people don’t see. The six straight hours of
training. At 17, everything seemed to be so easy. Now. I’m almost
twice the age.”

Hingis just completed her second season of playing Team Tennis,
leading the Washington Kastles to the championship and earning her
second consecutive MVP award, all of which has her ready for her
next return.

”It’s kind of weird just to play doubles,” Hingis said. ”Team
Tennis always gets you in great shape. Being the MVP, that helps, I
guess, the confidence. I played a lot more the last two years than
I did in the first three years when I stopped.”

Hingis’ schedule after the Southern California Open includes two
more warm-up tournaments at Toronto and Cincinnati before playing
the U.S. Open, all with Hantuchova.

”I don’t have any expectations,” Hingis said. ”Obviously, I
wouldn’t put myself in this position if I didn’t feel fine enough
to be able compete at this level. We’ll see. Team Tennis, it was
good enough. Will it be good enough in this world? It’s another
question.”

Hingis, who won 43 career singles titles, was also an
accomplished doubles player with nine Grand Slam titles, including
a calendar-year Grand Slam in 1998, and 37 doubles titles
overall.

A chronic ankle injury forced Hingis into her first retirement
in 2003 and she was sidelined three years before she launched her
first comeback in 2006.

But her return fell far short of the standard set by the woman
who held the No. 1 spot for 209 weeks, fourth longest in WTA
history. Hingis was nothing close to the player who was the
youngest Grand Slam singles winner at 16 years, three months when
she captured the Australian Open in 1997 and later became the
youngest female player to ascend to the No. 1 ranking.

Hingis ended her first comeback under a cloud of controversy
after she revealed in November 2007 that she tested positive for
cocaine after losing in the third round at Wimbledon that year.
Although Hingis professed her innocence, she said she was retiring
rather than fighting the charges.