Hingis cruises to round one win



GOLD COAST ? Martina Hingis rates her serious comeback to professional tennis on the Gold Coast yesterday an eight out of 10 and the Swiss superstar believes it'll only get better. After a three-year break from fulltime tennis, Hingis was understandably rusty early in her first-round clash with Venezuela's Maria Vento-Kabchi at the Australian Women's Hardcourts event at Royal Pines. But the 25-year-old former world No.1 soon found her rhythm and cruised to a 6-2 6-1 victory in just 51 minutes in front of a packed centre court crowd of about 1500. Asked to score her performance against world No.62 Vento-Kabchi, Hingis said: "Under the circumstances in the heat and not having played for three years, I'd say an eight (out of 10), other times even better.

"I don't know what else I should have done today better than what I did. The score says it all.''

Hingis retired in 2002 with ankle, foot and heel injuries before making an abortive comeback attempt in a WTA event in Thailand in February last year when she lost to Germany's Marlene Weingart-ner.

The 31-year-old Vento-Kabchi broke Hingis in the opening game yesterday before the Swiss, who improved markedly with every game, took a firm grip on the match played in hot and humid conditions.

Asked whether she was concerned on-court after her nervous start, Hingis said: "Not really.

"I knew I could play better than that.

"It was just a matter of time and getting the first point and the first game. After that I started breathing.''

Hingis' serve has improved and her groundstrokes appear considerably harder than when she retired at the age of 22 in 2002.

"Just wait until the next matches, I'll be even better,'' said Hingis, about her serve despite sending down just one ace yesterday. "You have to have a high percentage of first serves otherwise these girls today are going to kill you.



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