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.