Viollet wilts under Hingis' onslaught

GUY HODGSON

Noel Coward would have written a song about it along the lines of bad slogs and English women, and it required a special kind of optimism for Rachel Viollet to draw encouragement at Wimbledon yesterday.

Out in midday sun she definitely went, collapsing 6-1, 6-1 in 40 minutes to Martina Hingis, which was hardly the ideal way to celebrate becoming British No 1 for the first time. But was she down-hearted to be losing to a child? Would Wimbledon welcome a player in a florescent lime shirt?

"She's got a lot of shots," Viollet said with an accent more Manhattan than her native Manchester, "but I'd love to play her again because I feel I've learned a lot. It gives me an indication of what it takes to get to the next level. I feel ready.''

Which is more than she had appeared on court. The two players had one thing in common in that they are named after a sports personality - Hingis after Martina Navratilova, Viollet after her former Manchester United playing father Dennis - but that apart they were not on the same planet never mind within the same tramlines.

Hingis is possibly unique in that her seeding of 16 is greater than her age, 15, yet if it was a woman against a girl out there it was the younger player who was holding the whip hand. She had so much command she even began experimenting with her tactics as the match wore on, advancing to the net to "try something".

What she did not try, however, was Viollet's service which is an extraordinarily complicated action that reminds you of someone trying to wash their back with a loofah. This contortion is the result of a shoulder injury which required two operations and a two-year lay-off that halted the 24-year- old's career physically if not mentally.

"It helped me," she said. "It made me realise how much I loved tennis. My desire to play was even greater after I had the operations. The serve is simple and it keeps pressure off my shoulder.''

There have been occasions when Steffi Graf has had to search deep inside herself to find out if he still loved the game. At 20 she said she expected to be off the court at 28 although she has withdrawn that estimate as that retirement date draws near (next June) and the prospect of a 20th Grand Slam title is a big incentive.

Particularly with the principal barrier to a seventh Wimbledon title, Monica Seles, removed from her path. Yesterday, on the same No 1 Court that had proved to be the second seed's graveyard, Graf laboured at first against Italy's Nathalie Baudone, ranked 122 in the world, but eventually prevailed 7-5, 6-3.

Graf, who admits to being short of practice due to a knee injury, started sluggishly and it was only when she came to terms with her opponent's serve into her body on the backhand side that she assumed command. Her drop shots were particularly effective.

Four set and numerous break points were squandered by the German champion before she took the first set by forcing an error from Baudone's backhand with a forehand drive. The second set was hardly a formality either but she served out to 15 to win in 67 minutes. Two matches played poorly, two wins; the top seed is looking ominous.

Two potential problems for Graf were nullified yesterday when the eighth seed, Lindsay Davenport, was beaten 6-3, 6-2 by Larissa Neiland and Magdalena Maleeva, the 10th, was ousted by Nathalie Tauziat, a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 1992 and a winner at Eastbourne last year, 7-6, 3-6, 9-7.

Davenport lasted 59 minutes although Neiland had established a supremacy relatively early by taking a 4-0 first-set lead. There was a symmetry about the end of each set, an ace from the Latvian settling it.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links