Tennis : The new order: Players taking the Hingis lead

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The Independent Online
Sabine Appelmans: The 24-year-old left-hander from Belgium, ranked 18 in the world, has a flowing elegance that has won admirers if not many titles. She upset Conchita Martinez, the No 3 seed, to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final in Melbourne, and led Mary Pierce 3-0 in the third for a place in the semis. Admits she choked, and nerves may be the obstacle to the biggest prizes.

Amanda Coetzer: At a mere 5ft 2in, the 25-year-old South African, ranked 14 in the world, would seem to be at a huge disadvantage, but no player is more tigerishly competitive, as she showed in beating Steffi Graf in the fourth round in Melbourne before going on to the semis for the second year running. Needs a title, though - she has not won one since 1994.

Karina Habsudova: In the days of Czechoslovakia, it was the Czechs not the Slovaks who made it in tennis - until last year, when the Bratislava- born Habsudova, 23, came good. She shot from 57 in the world to 16 (current ranking 11) and had five wins over top 10 players. Became first Slovak woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final - at the 1996 French Open - and made it to the fourth round in Melbourne. Has yet to win a senior title.

Kimberley Po: Another who rose rapidly in 1996 (from 165 to 28 in the world), the 25-year-old Californian is now up to 23 and can expect to go even higher after her showing in Melbourne. Beat the No 7 seed Lindsay Davenport to reach the quarter-finals, having never got further than the third round in 18 previous Grand Slam appearances.

Chanda Rubin: Still only 19, the tenacious and talented American was a semi-finalist at the Australian Open in 1996 but missed the year's remaining Grand Slams with a hand injury. Fourth round on her Grand Slam comeback in Melbourne was more than respectable, and if she can stay fit the titles will surely come.

Irina Spirlea: Like Habsudova, the 22-year-old Romanian, ranked 10 in the world, has stolen into the upper echelons almost unnoticed. A tall, imposing presence on the court, she reached her first Grand Slam quarter- final in Melbourne, losing to Martina Hingis.

Dominique van Roost: The real surprise of the Australian Open, she and Appelmans are helping put Belgium on the tennis map. Ranked 43 in the world (she will be much higher when the new list comes out tomorrow), the 23-year-old won the Tasmanian International in Hobart the week before Melbourne and then reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final after beating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Chanda Rubin.

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