Hingis regains top spot by beating Huber

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The Independent Online

Martina Hingis needed just one hour today to reclaim the No 1 ranking from Lindsay Davenport.

Hingis, showing no signs of a month-layoff, took back the top ranking after her American rival had held it for five weeks by blasting Anke Huber 6-3, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the $535,000 Betty Barclay Cup in Hamburg, Germany.

Despite the 8,000 spectators cheering for her and an 11-match winning streak, Huber had little chance against the Swiss player after she dropped her serve on a double fault to fall behind 5-3 in the first set.

"I heard yesterday I could be No 1 if I win, but it's more important to me to do well in tomorrow's final," said Hingis, who received a cake inscribed with the numeral 1 after the match.

Hingis, seeking her third title this year, faces Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, a three-time winner of the event in Sunday's final. The Spanish veteran edged South Africa's Amanda Coetzer, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4).

Hingis kept the world's 14th-ranked player off-balance with perfect drop shots and winners that hugged the line, often turning around baseline rallies against the aggressive German with a perfectly-placed shot.

Huber's winning streak included the former Australian Open finalist grabbing her first title since 1996, having won at Estoril two weeks ago.

But the 25-year-old German, who will move to 11th in next week's rankings, complained of being tired after a heavy schedule, which included the Federation Cup.

"She hits those drop shots so well, but I was just a step slow today," said Huber, 25. "I can feel all those matches in my bones."

Hingis, playing her first tournament on clay, played almost flawless tennis after two opening matches where rust showed on her game.

"I knew I had to really put out some effort against Anke (Huber)," said Hingis.

Hingis, now 19, will spend her 137th week at No 1 when the new rankings are released on Monday. She first hurdled into the top spot on March 31, 1997 as a 16-year-old.

"Lindsay didn't stay No 1 very long, but I had a very good hard court season," said Hingis. "It's nice - you don't get to be No 1 for nothing."

Results from the $535,000 Betty Barclay Cup (seedings in parentheses):

Singles Semi-finals

(1) Martina Hingis (Swit) def. (7) Anke Huber (Ger) 6-3, 6-2 (4) Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (Sp) def. (8) Amanda Coetzer (SA) 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4)