With everything that’s going on in this tournament, it’s very easy to overlook Martina Hingis and her comeback as a doubles player.
But combining with her doubles partner Flavia Pennetta, the former Swiss Miss is back in the tournament that she bolted upon as a 15 year-old in 1996 and won the next year and winning a few rounds.
“I don’t mind playing like this, ” she said. “Today was a good match, definitely. I played my second match in one week only, so I have been like pretty fresh going into it. Flavia is a great partner to have, obviously. She’s very experienced. Been there, done that. She was No. 1 ranked player in doubles before. I’m very fortunate to have her by my side. She’s been playing well in the singles and so that helps. I just try to keep it nice and short.”
At 33, she seems to be in a very peaceful place. This would be Hingis’s second comeback after one in the mid-2000s that ultimately saw her suspended use of illegal substances.
But now, older and wiser, Hingis is happy just to be playing.
“[Doubles is] not as exhausting as singles,” she said. “Well, I can’t really talk about the mixed doubles, right? We didn’t get to play that yesterday. Yeah, things like that happen. Injuries happen. Unfortunately he wasn’t happy himself. So now I can focus on the doubles and help Flavia hopefully.”
Besides her play, her mother, Melanie Molitorová is now coaching Belinda Bencic, who upset No. 6 seed Angelique Kerber and credited Hingis in her development.
“I have watched all her matches so far in this Open,” Hingis said. “She surprised myself. Honestly, the first match I think already I practiced with her on Sunday and I’m like, Wow, she played really good. So I was, you know, expecting her to do well, but not as well as she actually did in the Wickmayer match. I think after that she just started to believe. Yesterday it was a great match. I’m very happy for her. It’s nice. My mom did most of the work the last ten years, so she’s finally proving it. You know, very good tournament so far. Hopefully another one.”
She should know and because they were both coached by Molitorová there are obviously similarities in their games.
“The technique, my mom puts a lot of attention to that,” Hingis said. “So the game, I mean, she’s got a great backhand, as well. But also she’s stronger, so she can work with other weapons that I had. I mean, maybe I was more maybe a little better mover, but when she hits a shot it can be a winner.
“Like she’s hitting a lot more winners than did I. So it’s different a little bit. You know, she has her style like I had mine, but she improved a lot. Every three months you can see improvements. Also, the big difference is like the belief that you can actually win against big players, great players, seeded players in Grand Slams. I’m very happy for her that she was able to do that yesterday.”
And Hingis is proving that she could be still a name herself. With Pennetta, Hingis has a chance to win again.
“Well, we played Safarova/Pavlyuchenkova three consecutive weeks,” she said. “That doesn’t happen too often. No, definitely the last couple of matches have been very nice. We trust each other. We know more and more what to expect from each other. That’s very important. I think right away the first tournament we played we beat three good teams on the way to the finals. Unfortunately we didn’t win the tournament, but we were close. Hopefully, you know, we will have a good tournament here and also the ones we’re going to play in the future, like Asia tournaments.”