Madagascan's progress puts Hingis in shade

TENNIS : A large island not noted for producing tennis talent has enjoyed an encouraging few days at the Australian Open here. No, not Britain - Madagascar.

The 17-year-old Dally Randriantefy, having become the first player from her country ever to qualify for a Grand Slam championship, has developed the habit of winning matches.

Though this is likely to end when she enounters Mary Pierce, the fourth seed, in the third round tomorrow, Melbourne has been delighted to say hello, Dally.

Mocking a ranking of No 243 in the world, she has glided gracefully to straight-set victories against the Argentinians Florencia Labat (No 45) and Patricia Tarabini (No 106).

The last occasion the sports-daft state of Victoria had reason to take notice of an athlete from Madagascar was 20 years ago, when the sprinter Jean Louis Ravelomantsoa won the 120 metres Stawell Gift professional foot race. Ravelomantsoa, it may be recalled, finished eighth behind Jim Hines in the American's world record 100 metres (9.95sec) at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Randriantefy, one of 2,000 registered tennis players from a 6m population (Britain has about 300,000 from 56m), benefited from the International Tennis Association's development programme and also from a Swiss sponsor.

The sponsorship was withdrawn recently - "they were waiting for results, and the results didn't come" - but not before Randriantefy had become acquainted with Martina Hingis, the 14-year-old Czech-born Swiss prodigy. They played each other in junior tournaments and inter-club events, Hingis winning five of their seven matches, and for a time were doubles partners.

Surprisingly, Randriantefy has advanced a round farther than Hingis in their first Grand Slam championship, but, provided the response is sensible, this could prove to be anything but retrograde for the younger player.

Hingis, who won her opening match, 6-0, 7-6, against Jolene Watanabe, a 26-year-old Californian, ranked No 90, lost yesterday to Kyoko Nagatsuka, 6-3, 6-4. The rankings suggested a close contest, the Japanese going into the match one place above Hingis, at No 72. But the Swiss was expected to win.

Though Hingis is gifted, she tends to play a conservative game when possible, opting for comfortable shot-making if an opponent shows signs of being easily dominated. In similar circumstances, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati, the last prodigy, would increase the tempo and go for the kill.

It is to be hoped that Hingis's approach will prove to be her salvation in the long term, preventing excessive physical stress while her body grows and delaying the day when a major success increases public expectancy.

Yesterday, she swept into a 3-0 lead in seven minutes, and then eased off sufficiently to allow Nagatsuka to improve her range and timing. The Japanese tailored her shots from the baseline to hit the lines, and Hingis won only nine more points in the set.

It was not until Nagatsuka extended her lead to 2-0, 40-0 in the second set that Hingis came back to life, going for winners and petulantly dropping her racket when upset by her errors, or those she perceived to have been made by the line judges.

Nagatsuka's confidence began to drain. She double-faulted to present Hingis with a 3-2 lead, and was pleasantly surprised when her opponent reciprocated in the next game.

Errors punctuated the remainder of the match, Nagatsuka breaking for 5-3, then twice double-faulting when serving for the match. Hingis was unable to hold serve and sneak through the escape hatch, losing on the second match point.

Patience is recommended to those responsible for Hingis's welfare. Something Hingis said yesterday had an ominous ring: "It has been tennis and tennis. Yesterday I just watched other matches. Perhaps I should have done something else."

Problems are not restricted to teenagers, as Jim Courier and Michael Stich have discovered. Both appear to be starting the year in a more optimstic mood. They are one match away from meeting in the fourth round, with the winner likely to face Pete Sampras, the defending champion, in the quarter-finals.

Stich doubled his number of wins in the first three Grand Slams of last year (a drought relieved by reaching the final of the United States Open) with a second-round victory against the American Alex O'Brien, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.

Courier, the ninth seed, advanced by defeating Cristiano Caratti, of Italy, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. "I was glad to put last year behind me," the American said. "I had a wonderful holiday of about seven and a half weeks.''

n Naoko Sawamatsu, the leading Japanese player who won her first-round match yesterday, will continue playing at the Australian Open despite learning that her family home was destroyed and her best friend was killed in Tuesday's earthquake.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution