Friday, November 29, 2013

Martina Hingis headed to Hobart for an exhibition in January

HOBART International organisers have pulled off another stunning coup, with Swiss Miss Martina Hingis to feature during next year's tournament.

With Australian No.1 Sam Stosur and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams already locked away in the main draw, the Mercury can reveal former world No.1 Hingis will play a one-off exhibition match at the Domain Tennis Centre.

Tournament director Mark Handley floated the idea of scheduling a men's exhibition clash during the event but has instead managed to secure one of the most prominent players of the modern era.

Before the emergence of Williams and her sister Serena in the late 1990s, Hingis was the most dominant force on the WTA tour having succeeded Steffi Graf.

Hingis, who won five Grand Slam singles titles and is a three-time Australian Open champion, became the youngest Grand Slam winner in the 20th century when she claimed her first Australian Open crown at 16 years, three months and 26 days in 1997.

Three months later she became the youngest No.1 in history at 16 years, six months and one day.

Hingis also holds nine Grand Slam doubles titles and 43 WTA singles titles, and sat in the No.1 ranking for 209 consecutive weeks.

After missing 2003 and 2004 following ankle surgery, Hingis played one event in 2005 before announcing a full-scale comeback in 2006, rising to No.7 in the world by season's end.

In the middle of 2007 she tested positive for traces of cocaine, receiving a two-year ban which led to a second retirement.

The 33-year-old returned to the WTA Tour as a doubles player this year, partnering Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova in five tournaments, including the US Open.

She was also inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport in July.

Hingis has recently scuttled speculation she would make another comeback in singles but is a confirmed starter at Adelaide's World Tennis Challenge in January and the Australian Open Legends event.

Her exhibition match at the Hobart International is likely to be scheduled on the opening day of main draw action, Sunday January 5.

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