TENNIS: Hingis in devastating form

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MARTINA HINGIS dropped only two games as she swept into the third round of the Italian Open in Rome yesterday.

The world No 1 brushed aside France's Nathalie Dechy 6-1, 6-1, on the centre court, shortly after Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the second seed, completed a 6-0, 6-2, demolition of the American Kristina Brandi.

"It probably looked easier than it was," Hingis said. "I had to work at it in the beginning and there were some crucial points, like when she was 40-15 up in the first game and 30-0 in the second."

However, the Swiss player continued the form she showed on Tuesday when partnering Anna Kournikova in the doubles. "Winning the doubles 6-0, 6-0, was great preparation," she said. "We're a great combination."

The wayward Patty Schnyder showed the first signs of a reconciliation with her estranged family on Wednesday, five months after leaving home for a self-declared guru. After winning her second-round tie at the Italian Open against Adriana Serra Zanetti, the world No 12 said her mother Iris had come to Rome to watch her play - ending a two-month silence between the 20-year-old Swiss player and her family.

Until the weekend, Schnyder's parents had ruled out any reunion while their daughter remained with her new advisor and boyfriend Rainer Harnecker, a 42-year-old German faith-healer with no formal tennis qualifications.

Schnyder met Harnecker at a training camp organised by her former coach Eric Van Harpen last December. The German was introduced to Schnyder as somebody who might help her prepare for matches but, shortly afterwards, she left her boyfriend and dumped Van Harpen, who had guided her to five titles in 1998 and a place in the top 10.

At the US Open last year, she created the biggest upset of her career with victory over the five-times champion Steffi Graf. Under Harnecker, however, Schnyder's form has collapsed. She disappeared for two weeks in April and later admitted that the turmoil in her private life had taken its toll.

The Women's Tennis Association have expressed concern about the influence of Harnecker, however the player has now indicated that she wants to mend her bridges with the Swiss tennis federation after she was dropped from the national squad for failing to turn up for last month's Fed Cup first-round tie with Slovakia.

"I think that I will join the team next year and we can win together," Schnyder said.

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