The Chase is on in women's tennis

Martina Hingis enters this week's Chase Championships as the defending champion. She is also on a two-tournament losing streak and intent on changing things.

Martina Hingis enters this week's Chase Championships as the defending champion. She is also on a two-tournament losing streak and intent on changing things.

"You want to end up the season with a victory," she said of the $2 million tournament that begins today at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Hingis is ranked No 1 and will be top-seeded in the elite 16-player field. Lindsay Davenport, seeded No 2, lost to Hingis in this event last year but beat the Swiss teenager 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday to capture the Advanta Championships in Philadelphia.

Hingis also lost the final in Zurich, Switzerland, to Venus Williams, one of four players making their debut in the season-ending showcase. The others are the younger Williams sister, Serena, along with Amelie Mauresmo of France and Barbara Schett of Austria.

Three of the sport's biggest stars of recent years, however, will be missing.Steffi Graf, who won the title five times, has retired and will be honoured by Madison Square Garden and the WTA Tour on Tuesday night. Graf, who won the French Open and reached the final at Wimbledon, qualified for this year's toam tournament titles. "New York and Madison Square Garden have always been very special to me and I'm looking forward to coming back."

The ceremony will be held after the first singles match of the evening."Steffi's retirement never gave her fans a chance to say goodbye," said Jim Fuhse, WTA Tour director of promotions. "Tuesday will give them their chance."Two other former Garden champions who played during the year will not be in the field. Jana Novotna, the 1997 winner, joined Graf in retirement, while three-time winner Monica Seles, who qualified, has a stress fracture in her right foot.

Schett, seeded seventh, will play the opening match tonight, facing Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain. Then, No 5 Mary Pierce, one of five French players in the field, takes on Anna Kournikova of Russia.

"I think it will be a tough match, but I have good experience against her," Kournikova said.

Hingis opens her defense on Tuesday against Sandrine Testud of France. She could use the Garden court to get back at Davenport.

"Next week at Chase, maybe we'll be in the finals again," Hingis said on Sunday in Philadelphia.

Coming off a dominating performance in the semi-finals against Venus Williams, Davenport used a big serve and booming baseline strokes to win her first Advanta title after finishing runner-up the past two years.

This was the second WTA Tour match this year between Hingis and Davenport, and Davenport has won both. They also met in the Hopman Cup in January, with Hingis winning.

Davenport heads to New York with lots of momentum. Yet the reigning Wimbledon champion has been sidelined with an aching left wrist, an injury that apparently bothered her enough to force her withdrawal from the doubles semi-finals in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, sixth-seeded Nathalie Tauziat of France plays Amanda Coetzer of South Africa in the morning and No 4 Serena Williams meets Dominique Van Roost of Belgium just before the Graf ceremony.

The first round will be completed on Wednesday, with No 8 Julie Halard-Decugis of France against Anke Huber of Germany in a morning match. The night program begins with Davenport-Mauresmo and winds up with third-seeded Venus Williams against Conchita Martinez.

The quarter-finals are on Thursday and Friday, with the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon. The best-of-3-sets final, a change from the best-of-5-sets played in past years, is Sunday.

"It's a great event. It's really nice," Kournikova said of the Chase Championships. "You have the top 16 players in the world. It's really the best of the best."

Schedule of play for the first round of the Chase Championships of the WTA Tour at Madison Square Garden:

Monday Night Session (begins 2300 GMT)

Barbara Schett (7) vs. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Mary Pierce (5) vs. Anna Kournikova

Tuesday Day Session (begins 1600 GMT)

Nathalie Tauziat (6) vs. Amanda Coetzer Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs (3) vs. Elena Likhovtseva and Ai Sugiyama

Night Session (begins 2300 GMT)

Serena Williams (4) vs. Dominique Van RoostMartina Hingis (1) vs. Sandrine TestudDoubles to be determined

Wednesday Day Session (begins 1600 GMT)

Julie Halard-Decugis (8) vs. Anke HuberArantxa Sanchez Vicario and Larissa Neiland (4) vs. Irina Spirlea and Caroline Vis

Night Session (begins 2300 GMT)

Lindsay Davenport (2) vs. Amelie MauresmoVenus Williams (3) vs. Conchita Martinez

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried