Tennis: Hingis has to eclipse Venus

Ronald Atkin finds the No 1 is facing a New York marathon

ANDRE AGASSI'S shining pate apart, the women have comfortably outdazzled the men once more in the tennis season now drawing to a close. They even hold the edge when it comes to the venue for the end-of-year championships. The lasses kick off tomorrow in Madison Square Garden, one of sport's most magical arenas, while the lads play next week in a giant Hanover convention hall which looks as if it might once have housed Zeppelins.

New York this week will decide who is top cat in the Women's Tennis Association on millennium's eve. Not in the rankings, since Martina Hingis cannot be dislodged from the No 1 spot, but in the matter of who may dominate in 2000. The four main contenders are Hingis and three Americans, Lindsay Davenport and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.

Unusually, the four Grand Slam titles were shared this year. Hingis won the Australian, Steffi Graf the French, Davenport took Wimbledon and Serena sensationally stormed the ramparts at the US. Yet, though she won no major singles crown, Venus could march into the new year as the one to beat if she captures the Chase crown next Sunday.

The 16-woman line-up is a quality one, despite the recent retirement of Graf, a five-time winner, and Jana Novotna, the 1997 champion. Of the current crop, only Monica Seles will be absent. The titleholder for three straight years, 1990-92, Seles has been sidelined by an injury to her right foot, but in any case she would hardly have relished dealing with the Williamses' bazooka tennis indoors.

The Chase (nee Virginia Slims) is, famously, the one women's event where the final is best of five sets. Twelve months back, Hingis defeated Davenport in four sets to take the title for the first time and she is the only former champion in the draw. Despite lack of stature and muscle, Hingis's ability to march the distance is not in question, since she lost to Graf in five sets two years ago.

The Swiss 19-year-old is top-seeded, having reached 11 finals this year and won seven. Her first round will be against France's Sandrine Testud, ranked 15th. The 27-year-old from Lyon has lost all their previous five contests but took four of them the three-set distance. If she comes through that one, Hingis will play either her doubles partner, Anna Kournikova, or Mary Pierce. Hingis holds a 6-1 career record over Kournikova, and leads Pierce 7-5, having won the last four.

Then it gets really serious, with a possible semi-final against the third- seeded Venus Williams, to whom she has lost in their last two clashes. Venus, yet to win a Grand Slam, landed six titles this season and has possibly only one peer in the matter of walloping tennis balls, her sister.

The draw has been kind once more to the family, placing them in opposite halves, so there is the prospect of a third 1999 final between the two, Venus having won in Key Biscayne in March and Serena triumphing at the Grand Slam Cup last month.

Serena, who went off to school following that Munich win to study fashion design, is deserting the classroom in favour of the Garden this week and, as fourth seed, should get to the semi-finals and a match with the second- seeded Davenport, over whom she holds a formidable 4-1 career lead.

Should it be an all-Williams final, be assured that their one-off father, Richard, will mosey on up from Florida, probably bearing messages scrawled on a tea tray for the benefit of TV, to witness the further enrichment of the family exchequer.

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable