Hingis leads show of hits and misses

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The Independent Online


reports from New York

As the first year of Martina Hingis's adult tennis education draws to a close, the Czech-born Swiss teenager continues to bring a mixture of prodigious shot-making and beginner's errors to the court. There were more of the latter yesterday, but Hingis still advanced to the third round of the US Open with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win against Magdalena Maleeva, the No 8 seed.

This is Hingis's last tournament as a 14-year-old (she will be 15 on 30 September) and completes her initial tour of the four Grand Slams. She won one match at the Australian Open, two at the French, and had the misfortune to be drawn against a determined Steffi Graf in the first round at Wimbledon.

Yesterday's result was her best so far in the majors, although she was fortunate that her first meeting with Maleeva came when it did. The youngest of the three Bulgarian sisters was competing in her first Tour event since the French Open, and the lack of match practice after injury was evident in the 54 unforced errors she contributed to a total of 91.

The most spectacular miss, however, came from Hingis - a 48mph second serve which landed yards in front of the net as she double-faulted to lose the first set.

In the third round, Hingis will play the 30-year-old Patricia Hy-Boulais, of Canada, who is ranked 55 places below her at No 73. It may be remembered that Hy-Boulais defeated the 16-year-old Jennifer Capriati in the third round here in 1992 before being beaten by Monica Seles in the quarter- finals.

Mary Pierce, who humbled Hingis 6-0, 6-0 at the recent Canadian Open, has made a brisk start here. The sixth seed required only 47 minutes for a 6-3, 6-0 win against Tatyana Jecmenica, of Yugoslavia. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the third seed, also advanced to the third round, defeating South Africa's Joanette Kruger, 6-4, 6-3.

The Spaniard's younger brother, Javier Sanchez, was flattened in the first round of the men's singles by Michael Stich, 6-2, 6-3, 6-0, in only 69 minutes. Stich, runner-up to Andre Agassi a year ago, appears to have found his feet again after losing in the first round of two consecutive Wimbledon championships. Sanchez won only 12 points in the concluding set. Michael Chang was in an even bigger hurry. The fifth seed defeated Italy's Gianluca Pozzi 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 in 63 minutes.

Luke Jensen clowned his way through a first-round match against Thomas Muster, double-faulting while serving first right-handed and then left- handed, and using a variety of shirts without changing his fortunes. Muster saved his smiles for the end of the match, which he won 7-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Mats Wilander overcame both food poisoning and his opponent in advancing to a second-round meeting with Todd Martin, the No 15 seed. Physically sick half an hour before his match against Steve Campbell, the Swede recovered to win, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

It is seven years since Wilander won three of the four Grand Slams, before drifting out of the game for a couple of years. At 31, he has worked his way back to the top 50 for the first time since 1990, and with injuries besetting the Swedish squad, he may be recalled for the Davis Cup semi- final against the United States next month. Thomas Enqvist, currently the top-ranked Swede, is seeded ninth in Pete Sampras's quarter of the draw. The 21-year-old from Stockholm had a difficult first round, defeating Marcelo Rios, of Chile, 2-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, after more than three hours.