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.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam