Tennis: Hingis forced to work hard

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The Independent Online
MARTINA HINGIS, the world No 1, needed three sets to overcome the American qualifier Lisa Raymond 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 and reach the quarter- finals of the Acura Classic.

Hingis, the second seed said: "It was hard today against Lisa because I had to work for my points, she doesn't give anything away for free. But it's a feeling of relief, I think I was good enough to win, it was a tough match."

Hingis regained the top spot over the weekend for the third time and celebrated by winning the TIG Classic in Carlsbad, California without dropping a set.

Raymond, who had to win three qualifying matches to reach the main draw despite being ranked 29th, gave the Swiss player all manner of problems, blending an assortment of slices and topspin shots with an effective service a day after her 26th birthday.

"Martina is back and certainly proved herself last week beating Venus [Williams] and winning the tournament," said Raymond who has lost four of her five matches with Hingis. "She's number one and the player to beat now."

Hingis ran through the American with three service breaks to take the opening set in 28 minutes. Raymond had just one break, in the first game of the second set, but levelled the match to force the deciding set.

The American broke Hingis's serve in the first game, but failed to take advantage and was broken after netting a forehand in the second game.

"When you play a top player I don't think you have it won, you feel like you're in position to win the match." Raymond said. "I really thought I had the momentum. I missed that forehand by inches and felt that could have been the match. If I could have consolidated on that break, I could have had her."

Ahead 4-3 Hingis produced her fifth service break of the match when Raymond went forward and pushed a backhand half-volley into the net. "Hindsight is 20-20," Raymond said. "Maybe I shouldn't have served and volleyed on that."

Hingis served her second ace on match point en route to her victory. Four other quarter-final places were decided at the hardcourts of the Manhattan Country Club on Wednesday.

The third seed, Mary Pierce of France, out-hit Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6- 3, 7-5, and the fourth seed, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain, breezed past the unseeded Romanian Ruxandra Dragomir 6-3, 6-1. The sixth seeded American Serena Williams had little trouble with the out-of-sorts Swiss player Patty Schnyder, winning comfortably 6-3, 6-1 while Julie Halard- Decugis, of France, dismissed the 1994 champion, the American Amy Frazier, 7-6, 7-5.

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