Graf beaten on clay by Hingis

Tennis

Tennis

Martina Hingis gave the world No 1, Steffi Graf, her first defeat on clay in almost two years yesterday when she beat the German in the quarter- finals of the Italian Open in Rome.

The 15-year-old Swiss sixth seed demonstrated why she is tipped as a future champion, recovering from the loss of the first set to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 for the best victory of her short career.

"I've just beaten the world No 1," an ecstatic Hingis, ranked 20 in the world, said. "It feels great."

For Graf, unbeaten in tournaments this year and winner of three of last year's four grand slams, it was the first defeat on clay since she lost to Mary Pierce in the French Open semi-finals two years ago.

The 26-year-old German, playing her first tournament of the season on clay, has struggled all week to adapt her game to the slow Foro Italico surface. A flow of unforced forehand errors was largely to blame for her defeat by Hingis.

"I've got to get physically in shape for Paris," Graf said, adding that she would not be ask for a wild-card entry for next week's Berlin Open. "I'll take some days off, try to relax a bit," she said.

In the first set Graf appeared to have ironed out the problems she had shown in earlier rounds. Three of the first four games went to deuce but, at 2-2, the German turned on the power, breaking serve twice to take the next four games and the set.

At the start of the second set, however, Hingis started showing the talent which made her the youngest-ever quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in January.

Mixing her game by coming up to the net and surprising her opponent with neat drop shots, Hingis broke Graf's service three times to level at one set each. Refusing to be overawed by an opponent 11 years her senior and due to set a record of 332 total weeks as world No 1 next week, Hingis broke serve in the fourth game of the final set to take a 3-1 lead.

Graf broke back, but the crisis was not over as the German's erratic groundstrokes gave Hingis three break-points in the eighth game.

Two were saved but on the third the German served a double fault to go 5-3 down. Five points later it was all over.

"It was a great chance for me to beat her because she hasn't been playing that many tournaments lately," said Hingis, ''but I haven't won anything, I've just reached the semi-finals."

n Pete Sampras, the world No 1, has withdrawn from next week's Italian Open following the death of his coach and close friend Tim Gullikson. Michael Chang has also pulled out because of an injury.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Training Officer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Training Officer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent