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Tennis: Hingis has chronic heel injury

MARTINA HINGIS aggravated a chronic heel injury during her surprise first-round defeat to Jelena Dokic of Australia on Tuesday, according to a WTA injury report released yesterday. It said that the world No 1 had suffered pain in the heel during the match, and that the condition - understood to be a long-term problem - will now be treated in Zurich, writes Nick Harris.

The news is unlikely to stop speculation that Hingis's personal problems are worse than any physical ailments she may have, but it at least gave her a valid medical excuse for pulling out of the women's doubles tournament, where she would have partnered Anna Kournikova.

"I tried to go on court and forget about everything that has been happening around me but I couldn't really pick up my game," Hingis said after the 6-2, 6-0 defeat to Dokic, which made her only the third Wimbledon No 1 seed to be eliminated in the first round of the women's singles. Her comments were primarily a reference to recent criticism of her behaviour on the way to losing in the final of the French Open a fortnight ago. She then decided to spend time apart from her mother and coach, Melanie Molitor, and it appears that the pressure, both of losing in Paris and of trying to assert her independence, is starting to show.

Hingis made a brief appearance at the All England Club yesterday, to collect some belongings, but her plans for the immediate future are uncertain.